miércoles, 28 de julio de 2010

H.H. Sivarama Swami: Kirtiraja Prabhu asks what he can do to benefit his cousin who recently committed suicide?



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"Planet ISKCON" - 24 new articles

  1. H.G. Sankarshan das Adhikari, USA: Wednesday 28 July 2010--Don't Be Controlled By Your Mind--and--How to Offer Your Job to Krishna?
  2. ISKCON Melbourne, AU: Daily Class - Devamrita Swami
  3. Japa Group: Good Japa Produces More Good Japa
  4. H.G. Sankarshan das Adhikari, USA: Tuesday 27 July 2010--Don't Let the Sunrise Catch You Sleeping--and--The Supreme Personality ...
  5. Bharatavarsa.net: Bhakti Vikasa Swami: fired!
  6. Sutapa das, BV Manor, UK: Chapter Seven - H.E.A.D
  7. Rupa Madhurya das, TX, USA: Rathayatra 2010 - Bhajan - Kalindi &Kalachandji Kirtan Group - 14/14
  8. H.H. Sivarama Swami: Kirtiraja Prabhu asks what he can do to benefit his cousin who recently committed suicide?
  9. H.H. Sivarama Swami: Monday morning’s post-Fair kirtana
  10. H.H. Satsvarupa das Goswami: 22
  11. H.H. Satsvarupa das Goswami: … "no more public engagements"
  12. H.H. Satsvarupa das Goswami: Waiting on Death
  13. H.H. Satsvarupa das Goswami: Dangerous Encounters
  14. Matsyavatara das (ACBSP), Italy: The Treasure of the Holy Name
  15. Dandavats.com: New book: Japa Transformations
  16. Dandavats.com: Bhakti Purushottama Maharaja on Mayapur Online Education
  17. Dandavats.com: Glorification ceremony in Vrindavana
  18. ISKCON Toronto, Canada: Namamrta - Japa and Kirtan Program in Toronto again!
  19. H.H. Sivarama Swami: Motherly love ‘does breed confidence’
  20. H.H. Sivarama Swami: Report on this weekend’s Bucsu and thanking the valuable services of the Russian hari-nama group
  21. Yoga of Ecology, Bhakta Chris, USA: Organic Food, Health, And The Burden of Proof
  22. Japa Group: Japa Poem
  23. H.H. Sivarama Swami
  24. Gouranga TV: Kirtan Dina Bandhu Prabhu
  25. More Recent Articles
  26. Search Planet ISKCON

H.G. Sankarshan das Adhikari, USA: Wednesday 28 July 2010--Don't Be Controlled By Your Mind--and--How to Offer Your Job to Krishna?

An unenlightened mind is the worst enemy of someone who aspires for spiritual perfection. Therefore the first step on the pathway of spiritual perfection is to bring the mind under control. Instead of allowing our minds to dictate to us what we should or not do, we must dictate to our minds what sort of thoughts they should be absorbed in. This is the...

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ISKCON Melbourne, AU: Daily Class - Devamrita Swami

Srimad Bhagavatam 11.22.37 - Our mind tricks us that there is pleasure in material sense enjoyment.

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Japa Group: Good Japa Produces More Good Japa

I was chanting today and had this realisation about good chanting and how it produces more good Japa. Our association with the Lord is achieved through good quality Japa and it's the way we feel the Lord in the morning.

Please chant with great concentration and feel the Lord each day.
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H.G. Sankarshan das Adhikari, USA: Tuesday 27 July 2010--Don't Let the Sunrise Catch You Sleeping--and--The Supreme Personality ...

There is no doubt that it is quite a struggle to remain fully absorbed in Krishna consciousness 24 hours a day in a world that is completely materialistic. So how to accomplish this? The key is to rise early in the morning before sunrise and deeply absorb your consciousness in the ultimate transcendental meditation of the holy names of God. In this...

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Bharatavarsa.net: Bhakti Vikasa Swami: fired!

As for Srila Prabhupada's own unfamiliarity with Western culture, it was a feature that simply made him more dear to us. If he did not understand the use of a word in the English or American language, it was another occasion to love him. One time a devotee told Prabhupada that he might get fired from his job. Prabhupada was astonished and said, "Fired? They would fire on you?" Prabhupada thought the devotee would be fired with a gun. The devotee replied, "Oh no, Prabhupada! Fired just means they would release me from the job." We would all laugh together about his not knowing these words. We did not expect him to know such things, but neither did we think of him as a "foreigner." Prabhupada knew the transcendental world, the real home. To be unaware of the material world was just another sign of his detachment.

>From Prabhupada Meditations by SDG

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Sutapa das, BV Manor, UK: Chapter Seven - H.E.A.D

Most things in life require some research. Be it your next holiday destination, the choice of university for your undergraduate studies, or the restaurant venue for next week's birthday party, you have to exercise some discrimination. Gut feeling is not enough. In the same way, spirituality is not simply an affair of the heart but also requires exercise of the head as well. Einstein himself stated that religion without philosophy was simply sentiment, and in more acute situations, downright fanaticism. In chapter 7, entitled 'Knowledge of the Absolute', Krishna delineates certain philosophical truths to instill confidence and conviction in the head of the reader.

H – Hearing (Verses 1-3) - Modern scientists often posit a notion of proving everything empirically, rejecting that which cannot be directly verified by our senses. While this may seem to be a logical, objective and rational approach, it does have inherent limitations. How do you understand that which is beyond the purview of your immediate perception? If you wanted to discover who your father was, the most practical methodology would be to ask your mother. You could subsequently verify by a DNA test. If you wanted to find out what BBC1 was showing tonight, the most practical methodology would be to consult a TV guide. You could subsequently verify by physically watching the programs. In other words, accepting higher authority is a principle of knowledge acquisition, opening up further opportunities for direct perception. Krishna begins this chapter by stressing the absolute necessity of hearing from spiritual sources to understand universal realities. This is known as the descending path of knowledge.

E – Everywhere (Verses 4-12) - By hearing from spiritual sources one acquires profound knowledge of the divine. Anticipating the common challenge "Can you show me God?" the analogy of pearls strung on a thread is cited. The pearls are perfectly arranged and harmonized as a necklace, though the thread remains completely invisible. Similarly, God designs, creates and sustains the entire universe, yet is invisible to the immature observer. The extreme intricacy of the creation, however, naturally indicates the presence of higher intelligence. Krishna further explains how he is also the essence of everything we experience in life – the taste of water, the light of the sun and the ability in man. In this way, through the eyes of knowledge, one can learn to see God everywhere.

A – Accept or Reject (Verses 13-19) - If God can be perceived everywhere and His existence is so strikingly obvious, why is there still wholesale denial of Him? Resisting forceful compliance, Krishna endows each entity with the free will to 'fly their own plane' and make their own decisions on where to repose their faith. He describes the four types of people who reject God due to preoccupation in worldly pursuits. Conversely, Krishna describes four types of people who do accept God, albeit under different degrees of selfish intent. In conclusion, it's a rare soul in this world who is able to accept God free of ulterior motives and enter into a selfless relationship of love. That level of spiritual purity, Krishna says, may take thousands of births!

D – Demigods (Verses 20-30) - Practically speaking, even a mere acceptance of God is a propitious achievement in this age. This acceptance, however, is not enough – one must have an accurate and precise understanding. If you were to be operated upon, you would insist the surgeon be well-versed in the details and intricacies of the process. It is, after all, a matter of life and death. Similarly, to simply believe in God is not enough - one must understand the nature and personality of God since the vibrancy of one's spirituality depends on it. Towards the end of the chapter, Krishna clears up misconceptions about the nature of God. 'Demigods', although powerful entities in charge of the universal affairs, are in no way, shape or form equal to God. Monotheism is firmly established and dangerous misconceptions are cleared up, as they have the potential to impede the spirit of pure devotion.

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Rupa Madhurya das, TX, USA: Rathayatra 2010 - Bhajan - Kalindi &Kalachandji Kirtan Group - 14/14

Kalindi singing a Hare Krishna Bhajan performing along with "Kalachandji Kirtan Group".

Dallas, TX

Download: 2010-05-22 - Dallas Rathayatra - 14 - Bhajan - Kalindi and Kalachandji Kirtan Group.mp3
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H.H. Sivarama Swami: Kirtiraja Prabhu asks what he can do to benefit his cousin who recently committed suicide?

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H.H. Sivarama Swami: Monday morning’s post-Fair kirtana

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H.H. Satsvarupa das Goswami: 22

www.sdgonline.org. SDGonline Daily updates

3:40 A.M.

I woke up at 11 P.M. with an ache in my head. I lay in bed for an hour but then at twelve I put the light on and took medicine. I laid back and rested for another hour while the pain subsided. I then got up at 1 A.M. and began my chanting. My chanting session went very well. I chanted all sixteen rounds in a row without stoppage. I found a revival of remembering the names as I said them. Unlike the man who suffers from Alzheimer's disease in my Healing House writings, I was not forgetful of my chanting. I recognized each name as I said it and recalled that this was the Hare Krishna mantra that Prabhupada taught me so long ago. The fact that I was able to chant all sixteen rounds in a row was something extraordinary for me these days. Usually I can only say twelve before Yadunandana Swami comes up at 3:30. But today was different and I wish it was always so.

Chanting sixteen rounds all
in a row, makes a
man happy and
satisfied. Prabhupada
said when he published a book
he felt he had "conquered"
an empire. Chanting sixteen
rounds makes you feel you
have conquered inertia
and pleased your spiritual
master. Does it mean you
have to start at 1 A.M.?
Maybe not—that's hard
to do—but that's what
happened today. It is
good to rise somewhat early
and say as many as you
can in quiet, peaceful
time, awake and alert,
listening to the mantras
in your mind, and
remembering the value
of this gift.

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H.H. Satsvarupa das Goswami: … "no more public engagements"

www.sdgonline.org. SDGonline Daily updates

Prabhupada Smaranam

This shows Prabhupada at a public engagement in a famous large hall in Paris in 1974. It was free admission and many rowdies attended. It turned out to be a dangerous situation. A devotee noticed one young man even carried a can of spray paint into the theatre. In an attempt to relate to the European audience, Prabhupada introduced his talk by quoting from the beginning of the New Testament according to Saint John: "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God." Prabhupada spoke through a French translator, Jyotir Mayi d.d. He began by speaking of the holy name of God, as can be chanted in any religion. But shortly into his speech a group of radicals began chanting "Get down from the throne!" When Prabhupada understood what they were yelling he said they could come and sit on the vyasasana if they could speak the science of God. The crowd quieted down and Prabhupada completed his speech. But before the devotees could begin kirtana there were more shouts of protest from different parts of the audience. Then a black man climbed on the stage and began addressing the audience. At first he seemed to support the devotees but then he just rambled incoherently his own concoctions. Bhagavan dasa came up to him, put his arm around his neck and strongly escorted him to the side. The audience became more noisy and the devotees began a kirtana in an attempt to restore order. The audience didn't join in and after a while Prabhupada and the devotees departed from the large audience under tense circumstances. On the way back to the temple, Prabhupada said they should not use large vyasasanas in future public engagements.

There were other disturbing elements at Prabhupada's public engagements, such as one at a university in Melbourne, Australia. There the students shouted out challenging and threatening statements to Prabhupada in a question and answer session. There was even a fight just outside the hall between some students and devotees and a student pulled a knife. Prabhupada had to be escorted with bodyguards from that engagement and afterwards he said he would hold no more public engagements. (But he did). It is not pleasant to relate these incidents but it shows that Prabhupada was willing to risk his personal safety to deliver the message of Krishna consciousness, especially to the sometimes tumultuous audiences outside of India. He was always fearless, but did not like to speak to audiences who were disturbing.

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H.H. Satsvarupa das Goswami: Waiting on Death

www.sdgonline.org. SDGonline Daily updates

My weekly phone talk with
Haridasa wasn't good yesterday.
Someone left the phoneline on
downstairs and we could hear
Baladeva talking to someone
about Aindra. Haridasa had
also phoned late in the day.
We talked about less
than five minutes and then
gave up. He told me he
attended a seminar by
Narayani Dasi on the prayers
of Queen Kunti at the Potomac
Temple and it was good and
his work week was good
too. No details. I told him
that for the past two
days we had workers in
the house fixing the garage.
That's about all I said.

We could have talked about
japa. Sometimes he has
some realization or experience
that has been helpful to me. It
helps me in my own
chanting. Next week
I'll ask him to talk
about his chanting and
I'll tell of mine.

That morning I didn't
pay but fleeting attention
to the names. It was
very early and I wasn't
fully awake. I wasn't
like a lover of the holy
names. But I did them
dutifully, as I've reported
in my japa poem.

Life is going well here.
I have no complaints except
my headaches and I don't
even complain about them.
I accept them as a matter
of fact. The Healing House
flowed yesterday with
the introduction of a new
character. I hope I can
keep it up, the reflection
and the fiction.

Prabhupada still allows me
to write something about him
every day. I sincerely hope
that never ends. There are
so many facets and qualities
you can think of, responding
to one of the photos.

I like going across the street
and talking to Saci and seeing
his family. I should
stop in and see Danurdhara
Swami sometimes. Mostly
we both keep to ourselves
and that's alright.

Jayadvaita Swami said he is
coming back here for Janmastami.
I was surprised and said there
might not be anything going on
here. He said that's alright,
we can chant and read "and
starve a little". He's such a
friendly brother I couldn't

So things are going on and
each day takes away from
your remaining duration.
You don't think about that
much, but it's a fact. Bukowski says, "Waiting
on death can be perfectly
peaceful." And it seems
that way.

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H.H. Satsvarupa das Goswami: Dangerous Encounters

www.sdgonline.org. SDGonline Daily updates

Healing House

A scene of violence took place across the street, which eventually involved Swami Rupa. It happened at the house of police officer Dan Richmond who lived next door to Saci. Dan was sixty years old and worked out of the precinct in Albany. He was married and had two young teenage children, a boy and a girl. He was scheduled to resign in five years. What happened involved a man who Dan had arrested and sent to jail for armed assault and drug dealing. The man had been released on parole after serving ten years in prison. He maintained a deep feeling of anger toward Dan for getting him arrested and wanted to seek revenge. One evening he broke into the Richmond's house and attacked Dan with a hunting knife, intending to kill him. Dan defended himself but cut his hand. He then got his revolver from his desk drawer and ordered the attacker to lie down on the floor. Instead of complying the attacker picked up the knife from the floor and lunged at Dan again. Dan's family members were watching and screaming. Dan fired a shot from his gun and hit the attacker in the leg. While the man fell to the floor, Dan took his handcuffs and cuffed the man behind the back. He then phoned 911 and the local police came. The affair created a great shock to the neighborhood, as Dan and his family were well known and loved.

read more from SDGonline - daily updates Viraha Bhavan journal 

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Matsyavatara das (ACBSP), Italy: The Treasure of the Holy Name

Bhaktivedanta Ashrama, July, 1, 2010 This morning Shrila Gurudeva has given a very beautiful speech on the importance of chanting the Holy Names. We realize ever more that the Holy Name is a Treasure. It is the secret to happiness. "We obtain the highest level of consciousness while chanting the Mahamantra, while our conscience is completely taken by Radha and Krishna's divine entertainments. Before we can reach these levels, we have to reach some intermediate levels, one of which is remaining fixed in concentration on the reciting and listening of the Holy Names. Through such prolonged concentration we can progressively reach a meditative level while at the same time, the external world begins to fade and the conscience escapes from the illusory strength of the objects of the senses. Serenity, satisfaction, gladness and joy increase and become a constant presence in our lives. We then enter that dimension of the living being where peace is the main state, where the worldly turbulence represented by the duality which generates continuous mood changes diminishes until it becomes null. This exhaustion does not remove joy but does exactly the opposite: it allows joy and inner satisfaction to fully manifest itself with all their force and consequent benefits. Rasa reveal themselves to the conscience. These are the sentiments of the soul that cannot be perceived while a person is subject to the dualities of life. These dualities enter and burst in our conscience when we give them attention and importance. This explanation may appear simple, but indeed the reason for all that happens is funded on a simple truth that is not simpleton, but a clear comprehension of reality. It is not an asura, a perfidious or evil man who injects elements of disturbance in our conscience. We are the ones who inject them, even though most of the times we do it subconsciously. In the end, each one of us is the cause of our bad fortune and our own persecutor. Only we are responsible of the poison that we allow to enter our conscience. After saying this, it is also true that the inner wealth that each one of us has was acquired by our own merit right when we have chosen to connect our spiritual essence to God who is the Origin of all Wellbeing and the Eternal Source of Grace and Mercy. If there are luminous elements in our conscience, we are the ones who introduced them by giving them our attention and taking them to the inner world and by turning ever more toward the Eternal and toward the non-dual world. In his works, Plato speaks of tensions between soul and body. The soul wants to free itself from the body but the body detains it through the psyche. Even Krishna in Bhagavad-Gita XV.7 explains that conditioners hide in our psyche and that we must research for the causes of our personality disturbances and for what leads us to believe that the duality of the world is attractive and that we can even find into illusion the solution of our problems and the joy we are aspiring to. Dreaming of getting happiness from the objects of the senses conceived as to be an end to themselves, ties ever more the body to the soul, multiplies the conditioners and by acting in this manner, the individual fouls himself into believing that happiness must be search out of himself. This is how life passes and exhausts itself by trying to reach that apple that is high up on the tree of desires because we believe it to be the sweetest, however, once we have reached it, picked it and eaten it, we soon thereafter discover that it doesn't have any flavor and all of a sudden we realize the uselessness of all of our efforts. Even those who have reached high positions in the world, such as prestige, money, power and whatever else, at the end do not find a real and lasting satisfaction. Similarly, even he, who would drink not only a glass but an entire bottle of sea water, couldn't indeed get rid of thirst, instead, the more sea water he drinks, the more he gets thirsty. We must escape from vanity and research for what can really give us joy. Materialistic people are in love with the immanent aspect of God but, because they do not connect it to His Origin they remain conditioned by the energies of Nature and lose the chance of benefitting from it without remaining tied to it. Spiritualists instead are charmed by the transcendent aspect of God and at the same time they appreciate even his immanent manifestation, but on contrary from the others, when they approach this manifestation they do it not for egoistical enjoyment but with a spirit of service toward the Creator who generated it. He who doesn't lust after the matter but instead considers it an instrument that can be used for his evolution, will be immune from the conditioner generated by the objects of the senses which in return will lose all their negative potentiality. Shrila Prabhupada explains to us this subject with the following paragon: " It is like being bit by a snake without his teeth. It would not hurt us because he needs his teeth to inject his poison. The same is for the devotee who works at the service of God and desires to participate in the divine lila even if he lives in the bodily prison. He is however free from conditioners of Nature and this is why he is described in the scripture as jivan mukta: free while still in life. He utilizes his body as a precious instrument to make evolutionary experience and help many people to reconnect with their spiritual essence and to God. To reach this elevated level, there is no practice more effective than meditation on the Holy Names, which becomes particularly powerful if undertaken in the Brahma-muhirta hours, between 4 and 8 in the morning and it offers us the opportunity to realize spiritual dimension. Obviously this result is not achieved by everyone even though many have the chance to obtain it. What hamper such an achievement are the conditioners that have penetrated ones conscience. This is the reason why it is so fundamental, as Caitanya Mahaprabhu explains the practice of ceto darpana marianam, cleanliness of the mind primary by listening to the sadhu who enforce within us the consciousness of the importance of meditation. To favor concentration and meditative practice, we must avoid giving in to distractions. The observance of the four regulatory principles is indispensible to avoid the most vicious distractions. The purpose to achieve is reaching that level of listening of the Holy Names that is not mechanical but felt deep inside. It is at that point that a fast purification is possible. This purification prevents mood swings and lowering of the conscience and leads to an enlightened consciousness. Then the journey becomes really charming, joyful and ecstatic, however, we will reach the goal through intermediate levels of progressive enlightening. One of the major dangers in meditation is falling asleep, that conscience state which is sleeping, drowsy under the effect of tamo-guna, in which one is not lucid nor fully conscious of what he is doing. The effect of rajas is not less harmful because it produces vikshipta or distraction which is the exact contrary of meditation. From a number of lives our conscience is used to carelessly accept everything that comes to us through our senses with the result that this confuse state does not appear to most people as something to avoid but instead a normality. The Acarya and the holy texts allow us to become conscious of this wrong cognition and offer us instruments to improve our conscience level. It is up to us to use them. Chanting the Holy names during the Brahma muhurta hours and trying to concentrate our conscience on the listening to these powerful spiritual vibrations leads to innumerable benefits even to those, having to fight a wild mind, are not yet capable to meditate on the qualities of the Lord, on His Divine Adventures (lila) and on His Divine Forms (rupa). The so called well thinkers, permanently serving pure rationality, could blame this practice by deeming it an imposition, but this practice of containment is indispensible to rediscover our original nature, the face of the Self beyond the masks of ego. Then when we become lords of our psychic home, it will no longer be necessary to fight our rebellious mind because we have reached inner peace, which is not related to the death of the psyche but to the optimum functioning and natural harmonization of the psyche with the soul. He who doesn't have a good sadhana will be compelled to remain at a superficial level of meditation and his conscience will continue to fill itself with elements not fit for spiritual realization. It is for this reason that sadhana is a sine qua condition to reach spiritual realization. Pay attention: do not fall in the trap of cutting corners and believe too early that you are free or spontaneously in love with God because the contents of conditioners still present on the bottom of your conscience could become lethal. The scriptures explain the importance of never neglecting sadhana because it is a Divine gift that we have received because of the mercy of the Acarya. In sadhana, chanting the Holy Names is a priority. Before dedicating ourselves to you social responsibilities or to the holy seva duties, it is essential to begin the day with Harinama Japa. In devotional service everything is Vaikuntha, but in the Kali yuga the practice of chanting the Holy Name is superior to any other instrument of purification of the conscience. Practice it by trying to pay attention to the quality of your reciting other than engage yourselves for a sufficient long time period. Attentively observe what happens and what sounds inside yourselves, invocate the Divine Mercy and ever more you will discover yourselves to be able to improve you state of conscience."
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Dandavats.com: New book: Japa Transformations

GN Press sales: Almost thirty years since the publication of his first book on japa, Japa Reform Notebook, SDG has produced yet another volume solely dedicated to the subject of the improving chanting of the holy names and is drawing from his experiences on the retreats in his bhajana-kutir in Delaware, when chanting extra number of rounds and rising early

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Dandavats.com: Bhakti Purushottama Maharaja on Mayapur Online Education

Bhakti Purushottama Swami: One of Srila Prabhupada's repeated instructions to his followers was to read his books. And we can see practically that the more our devotees study Srila Prabhupada's books while practicing the process of Krishna consciousness, the more they develop enthusiasm to preach Krishna consciousness. Most of our devotees study Srila Prabhupada's books nicely when they are helped through some study program or course

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Dandavats.com: Glorification ceremony in Vrindavana

Adi Kesava Das: On the 19th a glorification ceremony was held for his grace Aindra Prabhu, you can listen to the audio recording online or download it here is the link: http://www.iskconvrindavan.com/audio-archives/temple-lectures-2010/

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ISKCON Toronto, Canada: Namamrta - Japa and Kirtan Program in Toronto again!

In the ancient text of the Bhagavad-Gita, which is an important scripture for Bhakti Yoga Practitioners, Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead explains to the warrior king, Arjuna

"Always chanting My glories, endeavoring with great determination, bowing down before Me, these great souls perpetually worship Me with devotion." (BG 9-14)

Srila Prabhupada, the founder of the Hare Krishna Movement has stressed the importance of constantly chanting the glories of Lord Krishna in form of Japa (personal meditation) and Kirtan (singing sacred chants). The followers of the Hare Krishna movement dedicate some time during the day for these activities. However, Srila Prabhupada also talked about the importance of doing these activities in the association of others who are also interested in this path.

The Namamrta Program facilitated by Bhakti Brhat Bhgavat Swami focuses on just that! The first Namamrta Program held at ISKCON Toronto during the Victoria day long weekend gave the attendees a glimpse of the early days of the Hare Krishna movement as they spent 4 days chanting, singing and associating with each other and the holy names. Around 60 devotees took part in this program at the Hare Krishna Temple which featured presentations by Bhakti Brhat Bhagavat Swami, discussions, kirtan, delicious prasadam and a chance to do 64 rounds of meditation of the Hare Krishna Mantra on a single day.

After the resounding success of the first Namamrta, we are very happy to announce the second Namamrta Japa and Kirtan Program that will be taking place at ISKCON Toronto from July 30- August 2. This program will be facilitated again by Bhakti Brhat Bhagavat Swami and will give the attendees a great chance to strengthen their relationship with the holy name.

The program starts at 10am on Friday, July 30th and will conclude at 6:30pm on Monday, August 2nd. Being a program that cherishes Srila Prabhupada's teaching, there is no cost for attending this program however, any donations are welcome.

Pre-registration is required to help us plan for prasadam and hand outs better. If you are interested in registering for this amazing program or would like more information, please send an email to namamrta.to@gmail.com at the earliest.

We look forward to seeing you at Namamrta this weekend!

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H.H. Sivarama Swami: Motherly love ‘does breed confidence’

Read more…

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H.H. Sivarama Swami: Report on this weekend’s Bucsu and thanking the valuable services of the Russian hari-nama group

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Yoga of Ecology, Bhakta Chris, USA: Organic Food, Health, And The Burden of Proof

Paradoxically, my long-standing interest in organic food has encompassed both ardent support and concerned opposition.

My support for organic food -- and my own family's frequent selection of it -- has largely been based on potential benefits to the planet. These, I think are self evident, so I won't elaborate them here. My concern has been based on the misinterpretations of what organic means.

Organic does not mean "nutritious." Broccoli may be grown conventionally, but still has the nutritional profile of broccoli. Gummy bears -- and sugar, for that matter -- may be organic, which says something good about what they don't contain (pesticide residues). However, it says nothing good about what they do contain, or add to your diet.

Considerable mischief has come from supply-side misrepresentations of organic. Tapping into the burgeoning public interest in "going green," the food industry has draped products in labels touting organic ingredients even when such ingredients are a nominal part of the whole.

According to the USDA, any food sporting "organic" on its label must be "produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations."

Further, "organic meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides, fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge [a comfort, to be sure], bioengineering or ionizing radiation."

There is, of course, the fine print. A label that says "organic" is noteworthy for not saying "100 percent organic." Ninety-five percent of the ingredients in such a product must be organic, but the rest can be ... whatever. In products "made with organic ingredients" up to 30 percent of the content need not be. We may get the truth on a food label, but rarely the whole truth.

The industry has done much to propagate the view that organic and nutritious are synonymous. The prevailing view, for example, seems to be that Whole Foods sells only nutritious foods, when, in fact, its commitment to selling "natural and organic" products guarantees no such thing. Standard offerings include, for instance, whipped cream and pepperoni pizza. In any other supermarket, shoppers would recognize these as dubious choices for health promotion -- but under the halo effect of "natural and organic," Whole Foods shoppers may feel they can't go wrong nutritionally. I beg to differ.

When developing the Overall Nutritional Quality Index that now powers the NuVal nutrition guidance system (www.nuval.com), an international team of leading nutrition and public health experts and I wrestled with this dilemma. While we unanimously supported organic food philosophically, we were forced to conclude in 2007 that there simply wasn't sufficient science to include organic in an evidence-based measure of nutritional quality. Work on updating the NuVal algorithm will begin with the release of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and we will once again need to address this issue.

Ironically, both sides of the organic/health debate have received a boost from recent research. A study just published in Pediatrics found higher levels of pesticide metabolites in the urine of children with attention deficit disorder. The association between organochlorine pesticides, which affect the nervous system, and ADD makes sense, and was clear in this new study despite a good attempt to control for other factors. Pesticides residues may or may not "cause" ADD, but they are at least implicated by association. Other research over recent years suggests that organic produce may be, on average, 20 percent more concentrated in vitamins and minerals than conventionally grown produce.

On the other hand, a systematic review of the literature on organic foods published May 12 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that "evidence is lacking for nutrition-related health effects."

This paper, however, bespeaks absence of evidence, not evidence of absence. Consider what it would take to PROVE that organic foods confer a health benefit.

Imagine a clinical trial in which 1,000 people are assigned to strictly organic foods, and another 1,000 to conventionally grown foods, for 10 years. Such a trial would be enormously costly, cumbersome and logistically demanding -- if feasible at all. Some chemical contaminants would almost certainly get into the diets of the 'organic' group despite the very best efforts to prevent it, and these would also contaminate the study- because they would narrow the intended difference between treatment groups.

Nonetheless, imagine there were three fewer cases of cancer, and/or of ADHD, and/or perhaps several other maladies, in the organic group. Just "three fewer cases" over 10 years would be too few to distinguish from a statistical fluke in a sample of a thousand people. And, realistically, there might be even less than three fewer cases of cancer, because many cancers develop over a period of more than 10 years; a 10 year study might just not be long enough.

But let's imagine there were, indeed, three fewer cases of cancer, three fewer cases of ADHD, three fewer neurological ailments, and so on, in the organic group over a 10 year period. While none of this would likely be statistically distinguishable from random variation, consider what it would mean to the public health. Three extra cases of cancer per ten years in 1,000 people caused by pesticide residues would mean 3,000 extra cancers every ten years per million people! In a population of 300 million, it means 300,000 extra cancers every decade!

What this tells us is that the health effects of pesticide residues and other common contaminants of conventionally produced food could be truly enormous at the population level, and still all but invisible to epidemiologic research.

Organic and nutritious do not, and never will, mean the same thing -- please be aware of that, and beware marketing messages to the contrary. But along with known benefits of organic food for the planet, we have more and more hints of potential health benefits as well. The case gets incrementally stronger with time that a food that is nutritious to begin with is better still if organic.

While we don't have, and are unlikely to get, definitive proof of the health benefits of eating organic, perhaps it's time for the burden of proof to go the other way: since organic food is better for the planet and is likely to be better for health, we should accept it as such ... unless someone can prove it isn't!


Dr. David L. Katz; www.davidkatzmd.com

Follow David Katz, M.D. on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DrDavidKatz

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Japa Group: Japa Poem

Starting a little
late and sleepy,
your prayers move slowly
today. You will have
to catch up later,
but it is no calamity.
Days like this are
less than enthusiastic and
cause some anxiety,
but you have to compose
yourself and do them
later in a good frame
of mind. Tell your self
nothing is lost, and
you will meet
your quota down
the road in the
later morning.

From Bhajan Kutir #20

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H.H. Sivarama Swami

Saranagati, or surrender, means acceptance or firm belief that wherever the surrendered soul lives he is always protected by the Supreme Personality of Godhead; he is never alone or unprotected. … Anyone who engages in devotional service, anywhere within this universe, is never unprotected.

- Srila Prabhupada

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Gouranga TV: Kirtan Dina Bandhu Prabhu

Kirtan Dina Bandhu Prabhu

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