miércoles, 14 de julio de 2010

ISKCON Toronto, Canada: Festival of India (Ratha-Yatra) this Weekend!



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"Planet ISKCON" - 38 new articles

  1. Devadeva Mirel, Alachua, USA: Punch List
  2. Kurma dasa, AU: Farewell Perth
  3. ISKCON Melbourne, AU: Krishna Home Schooling
  4. ISKCON Melbourne, AU: Daily Class - Kesava Prabhu
  5. Srila Prabhupada's Letters
  6. Srila Prabhupada's Letters
  7. Srila Prabhupada's Letters
  8. Srila Prabhupada's Letters
  9. Srila Prabhupada's Letters
  10. Srila Prabhupada's Letters
  11. Srila Prabhupada's Letters
  12. Srila Prabhupada's Letters
  13. The Loft, Auckland, NZ: Futuristic Pleasure - Wed 21st July 2010
  14. Ananda Subramanian, Iowa, USA: How to directly relate with Krishna?
  15. Japa Group: The Number One Priority
  16. Bharatavarsa.net: Bhakti Vikasa Swami: Eating beef is allowed (for addicted meat-eaters)
  17. David Haslam, UK: nothing sweeter than service
  18. Yoga of Ecology, Bhakta Chris, USA: ISCOWP Update June 2010
  19. ISKCON Toronto, Canada: Festival of India (Ratha-Yatra) this Weekend!
  20. H.H. Satsvarupa das Goswami: 8
  21. H.H. Satsvarupa das Goswami: Construction of the Manor Altar
  22. H.H. Satsvarupa das Goswami: Simple Words
  23. Dandavats.com: Budapest's Ratha Yatra illuminates the city
  24. H.H. Satsvarupa das Goswami: Mahaprabhu's Viraha
  25. Dandavats.com: New Vrindaban's Ratha Yatra Draws Over 350 To Marshall County
  26. Dandavats.com: Jagannath Rath Yatra begins in Puri
  27. ISKCON Toronto, Canada: Pre-Ratha-Yatra Kirtan Festival with Madhava das, Gopal das and Others!
  28. Akrura das, Gita Coaching: STRONG FAITH
  29. Devadeva Mirel, Alachua, USA: First Pies
  30. Rupa Madhurya das, TX, USA: Drama - The Rose of Vidarbha
  31. H.H. Bhaktimarg Swami: Sunday, July 11th, 2010
  32. H.H. Bhaktimarg Swami: Saturday, July 10th, 2010
  33. H.H. Bhaktimarg Swami: Friday, July 9th, 2010
  34. H.H. Bhaktimarg Swami: Thursday, July 8th, 2010
  35. H.H. Sivarama Swami: This is the kind of preaching that brings joy to Srila Prabhupada
  36. H.H. Sivarama Swami
  37. Gouranga TV: Bhajan – Giriraj Swami – Vande Ham
  38. Japa Group: Pushed On Like A Soldier
  39. More Recent Articles
  40. Search Planet ISKCON

Devadeva Mirel, Alachua, USA: Punch List

Today no cooking was done in la cocina, except for pan roasting some puffed lotus seeds (makhana) for my kids’ dinner. They absolutely adore this simple treat and should be grateful to my friends Ajay and Sashi whom I met in Vrindavan, otherwise I would never know about this edible, nutritiously void styrofoam that is an all time fave in my family.

All four of us went to the big city of Orlando today, where we ate an unsatisfying meal at the Garden Cafe and I vowed to never eat out in Florida again. Why? The food always is sub-par, the places are either visibly dirty or I can just imagine the dirt behind the kitchen door barf and it is way way way too costly. I am not one to keep vows, but still, it’s a good sentiment to cultivate. I should at least hold out for something really good.

Afterwards, we went to see The Last Airbender. The kids and the Babu are big fans of the cartoon. The Mata usually avoids watching cartoons. The Babu and the Mata have only been to one movie since 1992 (I think longer for the Babu) and that was without the kids. So, this was our children’s first experience “going to the movies.” I was worried my son would be freaked out by the big screen action, but he handled it like a champ, only asking to leave the theatre when he new the Moon Spirit was going to be murdered. Since the kids knew everything that was going to happen from the animated series, it was a good choice for a first time. Vm, who is sensitive to loud noises, despite being the origin of many a screech and a howl, had problems with the volume, as did I.

All in all, a good time. I actually liked the movie and fell a little bit in love with Uncle Iroh and cried when Yue returned her spirit back to the Moon Spirit. God, I’m pregnant. Didn’t like the dough faced boy who played Aang and felt that there must be many of young, unknown, cheap child actors out there that actually have talent who would better capture an audience and make me happier as a viewer. But all the disses I’ve read about the special effects and writing must be from the perspective of a movie-going-sophisticate, because this country bumpkin audience member liked it. And I categorically dislike science fiction/fantasy, save for a few classics from my trove of youth nostalgia.

We got home around 7:30 and Lotus, who had been here since early morning, was taking off. He put up the scribe molding and shoemold on the white cabs, hung my shelves, mirror and clocks, and did some other stuff that I can’t think of right now. A piece of filler above the dishwasher, shoemold around the island, and some cabinet modifications (adding shelves and tray dividers) are all that’s left. For Lotus. I still have to finish putting stuff away, despite the eight hours I spent working on that yesterday, and husband has door painting and touch up work–lots and lots of touch up work. Oh, and Chris has to come back and install the kitchen RO faucet once the marble guys come to move the hole (don’t ask).

Kitchen blah blah blah kitchen blah blah my blah kitchen blah.

The place is a mess, but let’s take a look anyway. Shall we?

Stainless steel restaurant shelves with trial run of colorful stuff on them.

Seventy two inch wide stainless steel restaurant shelves were not the most streamlined design out there, but they were definitely the cheapest. Not entirely sure what exactly will find a home there, but I am sure I need to clean those things up tomorrow. I think it goes nicely with the stainless steel monster hood and, in this application against teal tile and above white cabinets with a soft and cloudy marble top, does not look too industrial.

Yet another angle. Have not done any cleaning off of the shelves. Or the stuff on them.

Inside the white cabinets below the shelving are our dishes. As my friend Samba once joked, it looks like I knocked over a restaurant supply shop. The dishes were cheap, but not that cheap!

Inside the cabinets: white stoneware. I have more for the bottom shelf, don't worry.

I love the Lenox bone china pattern *Chirp* but $145 a setting makes me squawk. When I came across these stoneware dishes at Pier 1 late last winter, I became a bit unhealthily obsessed. The dishes never appeared on the website and I regularly visited Pier 1 to make sure they were still in stock. One day, the very nice manager who never hired me despite my charm and the fact that I did fill out a resume, informed me that they were not getting any more dishes in this pattern–don’t know what it is called, other than “Made in Indonesia.” Despite my husband disliking these dishes for their blatant lack of symmetry, I bought them. It was a lot of money to shell out and my husband handled it well because he knew I…had a problem. Officially, these dishes were the first purchase for the kitchen.

My good china, which is actually stoneware. The mugs are dolomite and were made by Powell Peralta.

The dolomite mugs (yeah, that’s right dolomite…I have no idea why) don’t exactly match and were in another part of the store but they are so cute and 1950′s and avian that I snatched them up, too.

Another early purchase for the kitchen although these were over a period of a few months, were vintage Seth Thomas advertising clocks off of Ebay. They were not at all expensive, although one was listed at $60 and I went behind Ebay’s back and contacted the seller directly and got a *much* lower price. I really like them. They make the wall less boring. A worry was that they were going to drive us crazy because how would three vintage clocks keep precise time in unison? Very well, thank you. That is, if we could set them to tick in unison. The crank for moving the hands is a bit stiff and jerky, so one is a minute off. Or maybe my husband just didn’t do it right. Oh, husband! That’s a joke xxoxox.

Vintage Seth Thomas wall clocks. My husband just doesn't understand.

Mirror. That was the second thing I bought for the kitchen. And also from  Pier 1. The mirror was a little pot hole in our marriage for a weekend because I really didn’t consult with my husband on this purchase at all. I barely consulted with myself! I just went for it, because I knew it would seamlessly fit into the kitchen grand master plan. And, lordy, I was right. Unfortunately for me, the mirror was expensive and , well, I just shouldn’t have done that. Gotta think, people! But in the end, husband really likes the mirror. Awwww, love the husband!

Mother of pearl mirror above kitchen sink mounted high enough to avoid splashes. And the reflection of the short Jewish Italian woman who will be cooking here.

The old kitchen was so dark and dreary and dismal and Sadowski that I had to lighten things up as much as possible. Since, convention has it, the kitchen sink is usually under a window, I decided that the mirror would be my window…into my soul. No, I can’t even see into the mirror because I am way too inferior in my gene pool.

A little fleur-de-lis-y.

Mess sweet mess. At least the mess these days is a cleaner, dustless kind. More like clutter. I have a lot of kitchen stuff. A lot of crappy kitchen stuff. Hoping one day to upgrade and to relegate much of what we own to our “camping kitchen” box. But that probably won’t happen until baby is in school and I have a j-o-b. Oh! Which reminds me….this is really exciting. Oh wait, I will save it for a separate blog post!

Just a fraction of the mess left to unpack, wash and put away.

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Kurma dasa, AU: Farewell Perth

It's the end of my cookery sojourn in Western Australia for another year. The cooking was too unrelenting to fully capture it all 'on film', but here's a few images.

class preamble:

The second of my two classes at Upper Crust began with my presentation on panir cheese-making. That's one of my students, Pat, stirring the milk.

creamy Margaret River milk:

We used the best unhomogenised milk from Margaret River. Rich milk with the cream still on top makes top-quality cheese.

entrees are served:

A few days later I catered for a dinner party. Here's the entree table.

Kurma's cocktail party:

Guests nibbled and feasted their way through the afternoon, with a total of 20 dishes served to 40 guests.

Lunch at Rachael's:

A few days later I presented a hands-on cookery class in the suburb of Hillary's. Here our ebullient crew sit down to dinner.

epiphany doughnuts:

The Epiphany Doughnuts soaked in a sticky orange blossom and rose syrup were a great hit.

a little closer...:

Ok, a little closer...

So that's it. This tired Kurma returns to the East Coast to home base, and a quick recharge before another wave of events.

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ISKCON Melbourne, AU: Krishna Home Schooling

The Melbourne Temple is hosting a 2-day seminar on 'The Art of Krishna Conscious Home Schooling'; it will be hosted by Aruddha Dasi and her son, Radhika Ramana Dasa.

'Aruddha devi dasi shares her experiences on home schooling and raising children using Srila Prabhupada's books. She answers questions parents may have on how to get started and offers guidance on difficulties that may arise during a child's educational years'.

You can read more about the family's history on the poster attached.The seminar will be held on Saturday 31st July from 9.30am to 1.00pm and from 2 to 5pm; Sunday 1st August from 9.30am to 1pm.
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ISKCON Melbourne, AU: Daily Class - Kesava Prabhu

Srimad Bhagavatam 11.22.13 - The mode of goodness is more conducive for devotional service.

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Srila Prabhupada's Letters

1947 July 13: "Why the mankind wave should be offered services and why the beasts, birds, plants and stone waves shall not be offered services? These are some of the questions that arise out of a critical study of your book."
Prabhupada Letters :: 1947-64

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Srila Prabhupada's Letters

1968 July 13: "Work for the improvement of the temple. And whenever there is opportunity, chant in public parks, and collect some money from the gathering, and surely Krishna will help you in spreading this sublime gospel of Krishna Consciousness."
Prabhupada Letters ::1968

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Srila Prabhupada's Letters

1969 July 13: "I am so glad to learn your center will be a good distributing place. Gradually convert the Hawaiian Islands into New Navadvipa Dham. I am sure you can do it if you go on preaching with the same present spirit and enthusiasm."
Prabhupada Letters :: 1969

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Srila Prabhupada's Letters

1971 July 13: "Moscow is very clean but the socialist government is not very good. There is very little freedom there. Anyway, there is hope for opening a center in the future; we have made some friends there."
Prabhupada Letters :: 1971

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Srila Prabhupada's Letters

1971 July 13: "When Sankirtana is in a troubled area, it is not contradictory to our principles. Rather it is a great service. Lord Nityananda Prabhu, he personally went to troubled area of Jagai and Madhai and he conquered them. He was injured also. So do it very carefully."
Prabhupada Letters :: 1971

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Srila Prabhupada's Letters

1972 July 13: "My dear Brother Shyamsundar, in our childhood I used to take my ratha with my little friends. I have become old but my disciples will carry on this festival yearly, and so our eternal relationship with Sri Sri Jagannathaji will be remembered forever."
Prabhupada Letters :: 1972

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Srila Prabhupada's Letters

1975 July 13: "It is a very good suggestion to open the Vanaprastha Institute. The elderly people can live there according to the Vaisnava principles and worship the Deity and take prasada. I also want to open the Varnashrama College."
Prabhupada Letters :: 1975

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Srila Prabhupada's Letters

1975 July 13: "If you want to take a second wife, then you have to leave our temple. Our temples cannot support you and your two wives. You will then want three, four, and more. We are trying to minimize sex and you are trying to increase it."
Prabhupada Letters :: 1975

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The Loft, Auckland, NZ: Futuristic Pleasure - Wed 21st July 2010

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Ananda Subramanian, Iowa, USA: How to directly relate with Krishna?

Satisfying the senses or enjoying material life without Krishna is a non-devotee.

Satisfying the senses or enjoying material life ONLY by satisfying the senses of the Supreme Lord is a devotee (yajnarthat karma) - SB 4.18.6; BG 3.9

Krishna is not an object or concept or phenomenon. Krishna is a person. Therefore, satisfying Krishna means one has to have a relationship with Him.

Because we cannot see and relate with Krishna like Arjuna did, we have to engage in a relationship with His pure representative (guru) in a mood of awe and reverance.

This relationship and mood with his representative (guru) is similar to relating directly with Krishna in that mood.

Thus when Krishna is actually satisfied by our submissive relationship with guru, we will also be able to relate directly with Krishna like Arjuna did.

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Japa Group: The Number One Priority

I was meditating on this today....the importance of making Japa the number one priority in our day - rising as early as possible, chanting in a peaceful and non-distractive environment and focusing on the sound of the Hare Krsna mantra. I remember making a poem for my son Govinda when he was getting enthused to chant each day:

"Chant the words so you can hear, the Maha Mantra loud and clear"

I hope your Japa is going well and that you can feel Krsna in your life.
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Bharatavarsa.net: Bhakti Vikasa Swami: Eating beef is allowed (for addicted meat-eaters)

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, this is our proposal: "Why should you kill the cow? Let the cow be protected." You can take the cow's milk and use this milk for making so many nutritious, delicious preparations. Aside from that, as far as meat-eating is concerned, every cow will die -- so you just wait a while, and there will be so many dead cows. Then you can take all the dead cows and eat. So how is this a bad proposal? If you say, "You are restraining us from meat-eating" -- no, we don't restrain you. We simply ask you, "Don't kill. When the cow is dead, you can eat it."

>>> Ref. VedaBase => JSD 6.5: Slaughterhouse Civilization

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David Haslam, UK: nothing sweeter than service

As some of you may be aware my first visit to Bhaktivadanta Manor was one were my mind was truly agitated, my thinking was that if I can’t make it there I can’t make it anywhere being battered and bruised and even unloved and unwanted by the devotees. So I had convinced the devotee in charge [...]

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Yoga of Ecology, Bhakta Chris, USA: ISCOWP Update June 2010

Here's the latest inspiration from our friends at The International Society For Cow Protection (ISCOWP)

Click here to check it out!

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ISKCON Toronto, Canada: Festival of India (Ratha-Yatra) this Weekend!

The 38th Annual Festival of India (Ratha-Yatra) is almost here! Please visit www.feedyoursoul.to for more information. Some of the Highlights of the festival are summarized below:

Toronto's 38th Annual Festival of India launches with a spectacular parade on July 17th at 11:00am which will cruise down Yonge Street, beginning at Yonge & Bloor and make its way down to the lake. During the parade, three, intricately detailed, 40-foot tall floats will be hand-pulled by participants amidst energetic singing, drumming, and dancing, creating a wondrous, carnival-like atmosphere.

After the colourful parade down Yonge Street, Festival of India celebrations continue for the remainder of the weekend at Centre Island. At Centre Island, all festival-goers will be treated to a sumptuous and FREE vegetarian feast! The island's festivities will also feature a massive outdoor tented pavilion, host to a free and varied assortment of family-friendly activities and events. The festival is free and open to everyone!

The Festival of India is proud to present a lineup of new and award-winning performances that portray the depth and the passion of ancient India's devotional traditions. From enrapturing dance performances to dramas depicting thrilling stories from ancient scripture, the Arts & Culture stage program presented at the Festival of India will surely be a treat for one and all.

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H.H. Satsvarupa das Goswami: 8

www.sdgonline.org. SDGonline Daily updates

3:54 A.M.

I slept all right but woke up quite early and got out of bed at a quarter after one. I did so because I wanted to take advantage of lots of early time for chanting. I chanted 12 rounds but it really didn't pay off, getting up so early. The rounds were rather dull and mechanical. I chanted them in my mind, and toward the end I developed a headache. I'm sorry I didn't chant better but grateful I had the opportunity to say Krishna and Radha's holy names in a peaceful setting by myself. It wasn't the worst of chantings because I wasn't distracted by other things and comfortably passed the mantras in a rapid fashion. But when I think of the effects of the holy name as described by Lord Caitanya and the great acaryas, I know I am so far below them. All I can do is try to continue and try to improve. At least I've chanted a good amount of my quota.

I did not chant so
excellently, not like
an accomplished master.
I did not give my
love to the japa but
did it mechanically.
What good did I do?
I stayed wide awake
and heard the syllables
individually in my mind.
I kept at a rapid pace.
We are all chanting around
the world, and many are
better than me. How can
I teach by example if
I do not sink deeply into
nama? Today I am a
practitioner and not much
of a teacher, but I
persevered for 12 rounds
at a very early hour
and I can credit myself
for being at my
dutiful post.

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H.H. Satsvarupa das Goswami: Construction of the Manor Altar

www.sdgonline.org. SDGonline Daily updates

Prabhupada Smaranam

Prabhupada is paying a visit to the construction workers who are just starting to build the altars at Bhaktivedanta Manor. He patiently stayed there all summer until they were completed and a grand installation ceremony of Sri-Sri Radha-Gokulananda was held on Janmasthami. Then he sang and danced before the Deities in the temple. He was the epitome of the Guruvastakam verse that says the spiritual master is always guiding the devotees in the worship of Radha and Krishna in the temple. These devotees may not have been the most expert carpenters and builders, but when they saw Prabhupada's pleasure with them, they became inspired and empowered to do the job well. It was like that with all the services the devotees performed for Srila Prabhupada. He assigned them a task, say, of book distribution, or cooking, or painting pictures, or putting together a magazine, and with a few directions from him, they learned on the job how to be expert at the task. One of the 26 qualities of a devotee is "expert," and the devotees mainly learned it by practice. Some of their early efforts may have been imperfect, but they soon learned to master difficult tasks, with the aid of Krishna in the heart and confidence imbued in them by Srila Prabhupada. He never preferred to hire karmi laborers but engaged his own men and women and expected them to quickly pick up a proficient skill by trial and error. Fortunately, Prabhupada had many skilled, intelligent disciples, and they learned to pick up professional skills like building a first-class altar for the Deities at Bhaktivedanta Manor. The devotees felt their spiritual lives were at stake, and they worked long, diligent hours to please their spiritual master with a serviceable finished product. With Krishna directing them, they achieved wonders, and the Krishna consciousness movement grew and developed in all ways.

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H.H. Satsvarupa das Goswami: Simple Words

www.sdgonline.org. SDGonline Daily updates

I received a letter from
my old college friend,
the poet, Steve Kowit,
and I was delighted
to receive his "hugs." He offered
to send me his new book but
said maybe I read books only
in our devotional tradition.

I wrote back that I'd love to
have his books, and that I
do read the poets, they help
me with my own, just
like I listen to Charlie Mingus
while I write. This may
make me an unorthodox
bhakta, but I try to dovetail
it all in Krishna consciousness
in the yukta-vairagya spirit.
(Don't reject material things thinking
them untouchable or you risk
a dry renunciation. Use it
for Krishna.) And I receive letters
from devotees who read my
books. So it can't be all

I just have to be sure to
include some direct Krishna kathah,
because after all, I am writing in
the footsteps of the Vaisnava
poets. So I tell you that
Vallabha-bhatta was very
respectful and worshipful
to Sri Caitanya in the beginning.
They just had a falling–
out when Vallabha became
too proud and the Lord
insulted him for his
minimizing the great Sridhara
Swami. Yet Prabhupada
wrote that the present head of
the Vallabha sampradaya in
Bombay is an ISKCON
life member and very
favorable toward the movement.
So it was a scholar's

I admitted to Kowit
that I probably write too many poems and
leave them unpolished,
but what can I do?
I'm committed to share
something every day,
and I can't always come up
with something sublime and juicy.
I like the way so many birds
sing here from the many treetops
even before dawn. It's a
luxury. I think I'll keep
my simple life of going to
bed early and not travel
to that late night kirtana
in Saratoga Springs. It's
best I keep it simple and
look into my little life
for a reflection to share.
Today we are going into the
Motor Vehicle Bureau to
try to get a state ID.
That's an adventure.
And we'll read Caitanya–
for at least
half an hour. Don't
tell me to "get a life."
I've got one and
satisfied in my new home
spinning simple words.

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Dandavats.com: Budapest's Ratha Yatra illuminates the city

By Swiderski Tibor

Budapest's 'Ratha-yatra' Festival of Chariot returned to the streets of the capital on Sunday 11th July 2010. Budapest was illuminated by the wonderful colours and sounds of the annual Hare Krishna festival, a vibrant celebration of Indian culture and spirituality in our city

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H.H. Satsvarupa das Goswami: Mahaprabhu's Viraha

www.sdgonline.org. SDGonline Daily updates

Free Write

This pastime is right down the alley of viraha-bhavan. In Jagannatha Puri, Lord Caitanya was always feeling the absence of Krishna in the mood of Radharani. In His Sikstakam, He wrote, "I am feeling all void in the absence of Your presence." He would rub his forehead against the wall of the Gambhira and cry tears when His intimate associates sang songs of Krishna. But sometimes Lord Caitanya would catch a vision of Krishna in a grove of Nilacala. He was astounded, and would manifest all the symptoms of bodily ecstasy. The wonderful thing about this vision is that Lord Caitanya is Krishna Himself, and so it is like a child viewing His own image in the mirror. But Caitanya Mahaprabhu is Krishna disguised as His pure devotee just to taste the happiness of loving Krishna. Caitanya would see these visions but then they would disappear, and He would swoon unconscious. His devotees would wake Him, and He would be confused as to His identity and the situation. He would say, "I was just seeing Krishna in a garden when you came and interrupted Me."

Lord Caitanya had so many visions and fell into trances so often that He appeared to be a madman. Indeed, when He showed Ramananda Raya His simultaneous forms as Radha and Krishna, He told Raya not to tell anyone because they would think he was mad. "Actually we are both madmen," Lord Caitanya told Ramananda Raya, and to an ordinary person the activities of Lord Caitanya appear to be deranged. Some mundane scholars persist in declaring that Lord Caitanya suffered from epilepsy, and this was the cause of His frequent faintings. The fact is that Lord Caitanya had no material disease, but He was often transported into ecstatic states of love of God in which he left the normal plane and entered into a transcendental state. He was a "madman" of Love of God.

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Dandavats.com: New Vrindaban's Ratha Yatra Draws Over 350 To Marshall County

By New Vrindaban Communi - cations

"I can't believe the entire parade lasted 90 minutes! Once I started singing along with everyone else, the time just flew," said Jenny Santilli, a Spanish teacher at South Harrison High School in Clarksburg, WV

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Dandavats.com: Jagannath Rath Yatra begins in Puri

Sify Newsdesk: Nearly a million devotees are expected to converge at the city of Puri in Orissa for the annual nine-day chariot festival of Lord Jagannath, beginning on July 13

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ISKCON Toronto, Canada: Pre-Ratha-Yatra Kirtan Festival with Madhava das, Gopal das and Others!

Join us for two 12 hour days of blissful kirtan at the Hare Krishna Temple, Toronto and experience ecstatic and sweet kirtan leading up to North America's biggest Ratha-Yatra (Festival of India)!

July 15th - 10:00am - 10:00pm
July 16th - 10:00am - 10:00pm including a Maha Harinama (Street Kirtan) through downtown Toronto!

This Pre-Ratha-Yatra Kirtan Festival will feature kirtaneers like Madhava das from Switzerland, Gopal das from UK/Vrindavan, Ajamil das from Toronto, Akinchana das from USA and many many more! It is an event that no kirtan lover must miss!

And the kirtan bliss continues a Festival of India (Ratha-Yatra) on July 17th and 18th with a rockin' Parade kirtan, Spiritually chaotic kirtan in the Toronto Tunnel, kirtan on the ferry ride to Centre Island and non-stop kirtan at the Festival site!!!!

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Akrura das, Gita Coaching: STRONG FAITH

I have no devotion, nor do I have any knowledge, but I have strong faith in the holy name of Krsna.

- Srila Prabhupada

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Devadeva Mirel, Alachua, USA: First Pies

Our very white grout is in the process of receiving multiple coats of sealer, so I want to lay off the cooktop adventures until I don’t have to live in fear of fat splatter.

Which is why I decided to make pizza.

I said I would not be doing any oven work until I had countertops. Then it was faucets. Now that we are practically all done with the kitchen, save for endless finish work, I had no excuse. And, taking into account the grout situation, really didn’t think my kids would go for a dinner of baked sweet potatoes.

Lotus cut down my soapstone tiles to fit in my tiny ovens. I bought ingredients at Hitchcock’s, our local and often disappointing food store. Thankfully, the shop exceeded my expectations in most areas. To my huge surprise (no exaggeration) I found King Arthur AP flour and a decent looking jar of artichoke hearts. The jalapenos were in good shape, Polly-O ricotta and mozzarella score high in quality for  mid range cheeses in my cookbook and the organic cream was a nice touch. Roma’s are creeping up there in price as the summer moves on and the crushed tomato situation was a little bleak. With an eye on the bank balance, I opted for California ripe olives instead of Kalamata–the price on the Greeks was really alarming. While some people would rather eat toes than California jumbos, I don’t mind. Not ashamed to say that I loved them as a kid and my heart–and stomach–still have a special place for those black, meaty American beauties.

All toppings on deck. Clockwise from left to right: white sauce, artichoke hearts, Roma tomatoes, California olives, diced jalapenos, ricotta, home grown basil, tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella.

Oven was preheated at broil for just an hour. I like to preheat for many an hour to really get the pizza stone hot, but it was late in the day, work was going on in our kitchen and I have really been feeling terrible (cough-wise, not pregnancy-wise). I just needed to get it done. The dough was made about five hours earlier. As per Radharadhya’s recommendation to me, I use a scant amount of yeast and prefer the dough to ferment it out in the fridge a few days. No time for that. Super wet and goopy, the dough rose gradually and produced a lot of bubbles. Not bad. Better than your average 1.5 hour rise-time dough.

First pizza was for the kids, who were starving. They like it simple. I have one kid that prefers cheese and another that prefers crust, so there is some swapping going on across the table. We are taming them, though, and have to say, they each ate at least 75% of their least favorite parts before trading.

The pies were in the oven for an average of 4-5 minutes, with a soapstone tile above and underneath each pie. I don’t have an oven thermometer yet, so I really can’t tell you what the *real* temp was and I am clueless as to how much heat loss is incurred from opening the door to insert and remove the pies. Things to look into in the future. Nevertheless, my hunch is that the small “European” oven size helps cut down on heat loss/recovery time.

My kids don’t care for a dark, charred crust so these pies were right up their food alley. I would have liked the crusts to be a bit more done, but like I said earlier, the wetness of the dough gave it such a lightness, that I am not complaining too much–considering the kitchen is still in a rather unordered state.

First pie out of the oven--basic red sauce for the kids. They loved it.

Second pie was ladies choice. I went white. Very good. Very dairy. Very fat. I snuck it in on the top stone–a small mistake since the broiler gave it burnt spots. No worries when it came time to bite. It didn’t taste burnt at all, just delicious.

White sauce pizza, for the adults. White sauce, ricotta, artichoke hearts, black olives, basil.

The crust was not ridiculously off the dough hook, but it did elicit satisfied moans from me. See:

Delicious pizza crust! Not the penultimate for many reasons, but the wet dough really helped it triumph over its shortcomings.

I was talking while making the second red pie so I didn’t realize until after I slid it into the oven that I scrimped on the cheese. When it came out of the oven, I worried there might be some protest from the cheese lover of the familia, but she was already starting to feel stuffed so no complaints. And the crust lover was over the moon for this one! To be honest, this pie made me a bit sad. The crust was very light in color. But I ddin’t fret it because my kids like it that way. I aim to please.

Second red pie out of the oven and soon to be onto the plates.

The grand finale–another white pie, this time with my best pizza friend, jalapenos. Yumm-inauthentic-yumm.

Final white pie. More of the same, but this time with the jalapenos. I love the jalapenos.

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Rupa Madhurya das, TX, USA: Drama - The Rose of Vidarbha

Intrigue, heartache, deception, romance, humor, and triumph mark Krishna's epic quest to marry his beautiful queen Rukmini and become king of Dwarka.

This artfully woven performance, which combines music, theater, and dance, was brought to life by a troupe of talented local Gurukulis on the steps of the ISKCON New Dwarka Temple in Los Angeles, California.

This drama was recorded August 1, 2009, in front of 1,100 enthusiastic audience members and was a crowning jewel of KulimeLA 2009.

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H.H. Bhaktimarg Swami: Sunday, July 11th, 2010

Two Men at the Sidewalk

Montreal, Quebec

I was headed westbound on Notre Dame Blvd. Then Ste. Catherine towards the temple. A man who was squatted in front of a storefront, his head hung low, saw the robes as I strode past him. He raised his head at a tilt and said, "Krishna!"

Another chap on foot coming towards me began begging alms. "I just need a slice of pizza."

"Yeah, right!" I thought, but I said I couldn't help, shook his hand as a friend. It didn't come spontaneous for me to utter a name in Sanskrit for his purification. I reasoned that for now a gesture of friendship was enough.

I met two down and out persons who might have a chance some day and then I thought of those two fellows during a reading of the book, Chaitanya Charitamrita. In the section Madhya-lila, certain passages describe the great master of mantras, Chaitanya, as arranging food lines and personally distributing prasadam (divine food). He was serving his followers but then he noticed some people outside the lines who were poor and were not his followers. He then from the goodness of his heart, arranged for them to be fed.

Chaitanya was so inclusive and not exclusive. At the end of the reading I asked the listeners at the temple to recall what lessons or directives came from the texts and corresponding purports. The responses were good, but of all the remarks made the quick helpful response by Chaitanya towards the poverty-stricken struck me the most. And I'm sure it did others as well.

4 KM

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H.H. Bhaktimarg Swami: Saturday, July 10th, 2010

In Montreal This Weekend

Montreal, Quebec

Today is the day of Ratha Yatra in Montreal. This city seems to attract cultures from around the world. It's French language insistence doesn't deter Francophones from accommodating so many events. This weekend the city hosts the world's largest jazz festival. Posters throughout the city are boosting Milesmania. That is referring to Miles Davis, a favourite of mine. In 1973 when I became a monk I put Miles and other masters of music to the side for devotional music, kirtan and bhajans.

Our Ratha Yatra is modest compared to the Jazz Festival as far as attendance goes. Those who come to our event get charmed in a unique way. Leonard Cohen, poet and vocalist revolutionary, came to the Montreal event three summers ago. He informed me that he met the Swami, Srila Prabhupada, in the sixities. Cohen stayed to hear some of the chant.

Like all years, Ratha Yatra creates a buzz for many different kinds of people and in different ways. It literally means Chariot Festival and that is most definitely what it is. It is a singing event, a food festival, a cultural display and a rope-pulling project and it is also most emphatically a walking venture.

In fact, it dawned on me that here we are on St. Laruent, making that turn at Mount Royale, and on foot with hundreds of pedestrian pals. Undeniably we are looking at a very happy walking festival.

10 KM

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H.H. Bhaktimarg Swami: Friday, July 9th, 2010

She Scores!

Toronto, Ontario

She is a sweet singer with a golden voice. I consider her one of my spiritual daughters and now with the news she brought me, the paternal instinct became further enhanced. Her name is Karanamrita and she popped into Toronto to attend a wedding which I was not able to attend (although regrettably it was a marriage for another spiritual daughter).

Karanamrta has been singing for the yoga kirtan circuit but she admits to discovering a love for a whole new kind of activity – walking. She tells me she just returned from the famous Santiago walk in Spain. She covered hundreds of kilometers on foot and her plans for more of the same are just brewing. Tuscany is her next stop for a wanderlust experience.

I asked her why she was doing this and in so many words she conveyed the need to see herself more, to go deeper inside and see the divinity in everything. She spoke about the rhythm of the road, the freedom that walking offers, the reflection that comes about and the toughness it builds internally and externally.

We both concurred on the principle that very few people know what you are talking about on this subject until he or she applies to the process of carefree walking itself. It is rather uncanny that something so simple like walking could have such a mystical edge to it.

I would go so far to say that the magical harvest reaped from simply moving your feet IS a best kept secret. I have heard from many peers, spiritual bros, who have confessed to doing less car travel. Now I have found a daughter who has taken up seriously to marathon strides.

One day she covered 51 km. That's an accomplishment, Karnamrta. Keep singing those songs and keep going those miles.

6 KM

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H.H. Bhaktimarg Swami: Thursday, July 8th, 2010

Some Pride

Toronto, Ontario

It does happen. The tendency to be proud and to display it is very strong. Here is how I got hit with it this very day.

I woke up at 2 AM, showered, donned my dhoti and wrapped my chauddar around me in such a way as to expose some torso because of the heat. I set out for walking and chanting on my beads thinking proudly, "I'm such a good boy, waging war on the mind doing my mantra meditation so early. I'll return to the ashram to wake the other monks at 4 AM. After all not all twelve residents take the morning sadhana so seriously and therefore, show up a few minutes late. They seem so dependant on me."

All was still and silent through the quiet Rosedale neighbourhood where I chose to walk and where air conditioners were running hard. A good hour and a half passed and I made my return to the ashram. I knocked from door to door but received no reciprocation from anyone. Every last door was locked. Not a sould responded to my call. "Wise guys!" I thought. "They can hear me but they are feigning sleep on the pretense of working hard the previous day. Perhaps another excuse is that the heat is restricting sleep."

Anyways, I was thinking all of them. I then looked up at the main clock at the end of the corridor realizing a discrepancy with my new digital watch. I was off by an hour. The main clock read 5:05 AM. I was surprised.

That meant that everyone was already up, had showered and were already in attendance in the temple room finishing some recitation. Therefore, I ended up being the late one. Nevertheless, I did feel some embarrassment.

I do get guilt-ridden when missing any morning spiritual practices. It is very important to me and it is important that I benefit from the grace that comes from attendance in addition to being the example.

8 KM

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H.H. Sivarama Swami: This is the kind of preaching that brings joy to Srila Prabhupada


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H.H. Sivarama Swami

So if you accept Krsna as your son, as your friend, as your lover, you will
never be cheated. Give up this false illusory servant or son or father or lover. You’ll be cheated. You’ll be cheated. If you love your son with your heart and soul, that very son will may be someday your most veritable enemy. Yes. This is the world. The wife you love so much, but the wife may be someday so great enemy that she can kill you for her own interest. There are so many instances. …if you make the same relationship with Krsna, it will never become zero; it will be enthusiastic more and more.

- Srila Prabhupada

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Gouranga TV: Bhajan – Giriraj Swami – Vande Ham

Bhajan – Giriraj Swami – Vande Ham

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Japa Group: Pushed On Like A Soldier

I then pushed on like a soldier with a bullet wound, and I have completed all my 16 rounds. Despite my physical difficulty, I kept my mind fixed on the Names and simply persisted. There are days like this when you have no recourse but to go on chanting and remain sober.

From Bhajan Kutir #5

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