deltaflow: home

Viewing entries tagged with 'gurudeva'

Travel: Brisbane Bhakti Yoga Retreat

6 June 2007 | 2 Comments | Tags: , ,

Thumb Dsc 0027After a short stay in Brisbane the devotees headed off to a retreat center two hours out of town on Mount Warning, Murwillumbah, NSW. The center had been shut down for many years, but the owner wanted to get it going again. However, fixing it up was a big job, which he could not have managed on his own. So, the devotees offered to help. It took many weekends of hard work to clean out the dirt and numerous living entities that had taken up residence in the abandoned buildings. Now however, looking at the results, one would never know. It is a very nice setting.

The bhakti yoga retreat was a wonderful program of getting up early, finding one's way to the main building in the darkness of the night using a flashlight, having a nice morning program, chanting the maha-mantra on beads, having another nice program, listening to inspiring classes by Devamrita Swami, having a nice healthy breakfast, resting, attending an occasional seminar, having a sensational lunch (taking into account all the devotees' health needs) and a nice evening program that usually lasted deep into the night and exhausted everyone with hours and hours of blissful chanting.

I finally got the opportunity to meet some devotees in person who I had previously only known and communicated with online. Plus, of course, all the great enthusiastic practitioners of Krishna consciousness I met for the first time.

The last day of the retreat was a particularly memorable one. We did a one and a half hour trek over the mountain to the New Govardhana temple. New Govardhana is a huge community of devotees, complete with wild peacocks, poisonous snakes and beautiful deities. The pace of the walk was hard and fast, yet Sitapati led a transcendental kirtan all the way (while carrying his son on his shoulders and accordion strapped to his chest). I had a hard time just walking!

Near the end of the walk the heavens opened and 15-minute rain storm swept over all of us. Everyone was drenched. However, we dried off soon enough when we reached the temple and carried on chanting for what must have been another two hours of kirtan. Then Devamrita Swami arrived at the temple, gave the Sunday Feast lecture and proceeded to have another 1-2 hour long kirtan. This one even more intense than the previous ones. Then, finally, a hugely opulent feast. What a day! (If only every day could be this wonderful...)

Many, many pictures of the retreat are viewable here.

Devamrita Swami: Essential Questions by Vidura

20 February 2007 | 1 Comments | Tags: ,

Questions are the natural product of affection. Complexities will inevitably be part of practicing KC in the material world. It's like trying to remain dry while immersed in water.

The pushings of senses are reactions for your sensory activity. People say life is a learning process, but what is the lesson?

What is good material advice? "Ride the waves, roll with the punches, life is not a spectator sport you have to get into it". SB gives you more important advice. Other advice is trivialized in comparison.

Notice the way Vidura asks questions. It is not just like someone shouting out a car window. Ask questions like Vidura does. Ask older devotees, no need to wait for Maitreya to come along. Glorify the current teacher.

Ask to understand the pastimes of Krishna that will stimulate our KC, do not ask idle question e.g. "How many toilets were there in Dwaraka?"

Materially you can't be the friend of everyone. You can't meet all the human population.

Why does Krishna say such strong things in BG? Shouldn't He be more positive?

Everyone living in Kali-yuga has lost their vision. You may be thoroughly experienced, but still you cannot see.

"Experience is the best teacher ... because a fool will learn no other way."

Divine knowledge can only come from the devotees. They can stop repeated birth and death.

Question: doesn't maya lead you to the devotees?
Question: I'm still not convinced, doesn't experience at least something to a fool?

That is the problem with the world's population: "I don't know what I'm doing, you don't know what you're doing, so lets have a kid" The illusory energy throws a blanket over your head and then tells you: "now make progress, create a civilization." We aren't trying to be a Spielverderber (kill-joy). We are trying to cure a severe disease. We take precautions because we want to love. Love is not a cheap thing. It requires great preparation and qualification. Material romance lasts on average 12 - 16 months. That's the best the material energy gives you. We want real eternal love, but we have to become qualified. How many of you would fall in love with someone who has no qualification? Real love grants you immunity from material miseries. Has a lover ever offered you that?

Questions:

  • BG says you can't take up KC without a storehouse of pious activities. So how can we take up KC?
  • How do our own desires move us to meet with the devotees?
  • I was treated very unfairly and excluded by the community of devotees yesterday. What will you do about it?

There is great potential for Krishna consciousness in Germany. People appreciate that there may be another possibility in life rather than the mundane. People are open and accepting. Right here there are 4 devotees here in Berlin who came to KC in New Zealand. In Melbourne Australia the personal driver of the current German Chancellor (Angela Merkel) volunteered to wash dishes in the temple. There is so much potential, so now you need to think how you can take advantage of this potential. There will always be setbacks, but the devotees qualification is that he keeps pushing forward. The future is in your hands.

Devamrita Swami: End of the Damodara-lila

17 February 2007 | 0 Comments | Tags: ,

Devotees tend to want to focus on Krishna, on the pastime of mother Yasoda binding Krishna. Now that Krishna is bound to the mortar, what happened then? Time for more mischief: I shall knock down these two Yamala Arjuna trees.

Let us go to the heavenly planets: two sons of Kuvera were engaging in material enjoyment. They were sporting with young girls in the heavenly planets. Manigriva and Nalakuvara were so arrogant and intoxicated. Drunk and enjoying with young girls, this is the essence of life. Everyone should be like this, right?

Civilized life begins with controlling the senses. So Narada Muni become transcendentally angry. Of riches, great learning, good birth and personal beauty, riches are the most degrading. Queen Kunti says: People maddened by these things can't chant the names of Krishna.

Who here is materially exhausted? Better to be poor. Now, you may become afraid of KC? "If I become serious about KC I might loose all my wealth"

The example of a mother pinching her child to wake her up to give her medicine. See only a part of the picture and you might think this is cruel. The demigods emerging from the trees began to glorify Krishna. Krishna was thinking: "I'm just a cowheard boy, why are they saying these things?" Just see the paradox of the situation: first the unlimited is bound by Mother Yasoda, then the bound person is setting others free.
You all work but always get an "Urlaub" (vacation). But the senses never give you an "Urlaub". So you take intoxication, but that doesn't solve the problem, it just makes you forget for a few hours.

Nalakuvara and Manigriva were enjoying in heaven where the sense enjoyment was 10,000 and 100,000 better than here and still they are praying to Krishna for no more material enjoyment, just pure love of God.

Questions:

  • Offering to a devotee is higher than offering to Krishna directly. Could you talk a little more about this?
  • Krishna was angry at being bound, but he also was thinking he wanted to fulfill the words of Narada Muni. Was this the same small boy Krishna or some other aspect of him?
  • Is it okay for a mother to see her child as Krishna?

Devamrita Swami: BG4.9 End of Logic and Reason

14 February 2007 | 3 Comments | Tags: , ,

Weimar is a great University city. Apply your great education to understanding Krishna. Proof of Krishna is not in logic and reason, the proof is in the scripture. But sometimes logic and reason is useful to help you understand the scripture. Logic and reason cannot stretch into completely spiritual topics. It can only take you so far.

Who has never felt attraction to anyone? All this attraction originates in Krishna. Once you understand Krishna you can understand the source of all attraction. The goal isn't to become some dry theologian. The goal is to train you to feel the natural dormant attraction to Krishna. Krishna isn't some theoretical construct, but the source of all attractiveness. He drowns the inhabitants of Vrindavan in unlimited pools of ecstasy.

Most people today think that the result of getting knowledge is increased income. Without the financial reward most students wouldn't go to school. The result of transcendental knowledge is to go to a place from which you will never return.

"All I know is that my body needs some sensuality and my crazy mind needs some intoxication. And while I'm doing that I'll study something that will hopefully make me some money."

That is life as it is lived today.

The vow to sing this particular song during the kartik month is a necessary part of bhakti. To truly appreciate the damodara-lila you have to have an understanding of the spiritual paradox. What is the use of education without understanding Krishna?

This is the highest science of pure love: the one who binds everyone through maya is bound by his devotees' pure love.
Every time Mother Yasoda tried to bind Krishna the rope was two fingers too short. But how do you bind someone who has no beginning or end? That is real knowledge. But Mother Yasoda had bhakta-nista, devotional stubbornness. She was determined to discipline her child. Krishna's determination is called sva-nista. Krishna's stubbornness is that he will always reciprocate with his devotees.

Who has been bound before? Remember the old DDR days when you were bound? You couldn't go where you want, or do what you want. One secret police informer for every three persons in the country. And what about the "ropes of affection"? How many have been bound by that? You go out looking for someone: "please bind me, please bind me". Being bound is a faulty situation. But people nowadays are gloried for being in bound:

"I don't know anything: it's great! I don't understand who I am, but 'who cares'? Knowledge to get to the root of anything: that is impossible."

Because of these contaminations we don't feel the thirst to understand Krishna.

Have you ever gazed into someone's face continually and the beauty just increased and increased? With your husband you can try. Go ahead, try it. How long can you look at his face continuously? Do you ever curse the creator: "oh, why just two eyes to look into my husband's face"? Therefore, there is not real beauty in this world.

Everyone here has just a few basic desires, but you go through so many tribulations just to satisfy them. Now think of having unlimited desires. And think of having the unlimited ability to satisfy those unlimited desire. That is God. He has the surajaya-laksmi ability.

These are some paradoxes you can meditate upon and they will bring great joy to your life. Do any of your professors at university tell you: "upon graduating with this degree you will not take another material body"? Just Professor Krishna said that.

Questions:
- You said that by understanding Krishna we will understand everything else, but I have heard Prabhupada say that we must first become conscious before becoming Krishna conscious?
- How can we love everybody, because someone might be very nasty and not fulfill the necessary requirements that I could love them?

GD Germany tour 2 day 5: Epilogue

25 December 2006 | 0 Comments | Tags: ,

Guru Maharaja asked Frank-Peter what the most memorable part of our trip was. Answer: the Swami's lectures and the spiritual feeling of nourishment in the heart from devotee association.

Bits of advice from the Guru:

  • Marriage, whether you know the person or not, is difficult. However, if you stick to it until you're over 45, the passions die down, and you start to work together very well. The problem is that few couples can weather the storm for that long.
  • German ISKCON was famous around the world as the epicenter of extremism and fanaticism.
  • Women need to decide: do they want to surrender to the nest, or do they want to become Krishna conscious career women?
  • Mellow husbands are okay, but passionate men are in for a shock when they are no longer the number one baby of the family. For every child you have the attention you get from your wife goes down by at least 33%.
  • You want to get things done, you ask a busy person.
  • Service defines everything: you have to stay at an appropriate level of fitness for executing your service. Its very easy to ignore your health.
  • Germans are probably the most direct persons on the Earth. They are tough. You can tell them things straight-on. They appreciate it, too. You are not wasting their time.
  • A good manager/executive like Dina Sharana is defined not so much by what they do, rather they are defined by what they do not do.

Also, check out the pictures from the trip.

DS Germany tour 2 day 4: Drive from Berlin to Leipzig

22 December 2006 | 0 Comments | Tags: ,

As we drove from Berlin to Leipzig I noticed that wind power generators were everywhere. Every few km there was a patch of about 15 windmills. Germany is the world's greatest producer of wind power. It generates double the amount of wind power than the next runner up (which is France, I think). A good thing too: German has instituted a law that requires that all nuclear power plants are shut down in the next 50 years. The 40% of the country's power that those generate needs to be replaced with renewable energy.

The East Germans are quite hearty people. More so than their western breatheren. They seem more emotional and personable.

Guru quotes:

The TV is the greatest destroyer of Krishna conscious family life and time for chanting

The prasadam in Berlin is very good. When there is good prasadam, the mind is peaceful.

DS Germany tour 2 day 3: Berlin

14 December 2006 | 2 Comments | Tags: ,

We travelled to Berlin with Maitreya-Muni das, a very nice disciple of Pritu Prabhu. It was a very nice sunny day with hardly any traffic. A very nice ride up to Germany's capital city (4 million people live in Berlin).

The temple itself was a bit of a shock. Located off a main street in an old courtyard of sorts, it had a run-down DDR-look to it, but at the same time was extremely peaceful. None of the noises from the busy road penetrated in. Dieties of Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra shone brightly. Supremely excellent prasadam was served upon our arrival. I've rarely seen Guru Maharaja chant so much while taking a meal. The food was most definitely out of this world.

I met Bhakta Andr?©, an expert photographer who took off in his Krishna consciousness while visiting New Zealand. In Wellington he met Devamrita Swami and married his long-term girlfriend.

The Saturday Feast started off with an hour of super-sweet bhajans. The singing, harmonium and mrdanga playing was expert.

DS Germany tour 2 day 2: Weimar

9 December 2006 | 0 Comments | Tags: ,

Weimar is a famous beautiful university town. The birthplace of Schiller, one of the most famous German authors ever. It is one of the only cities in East Germany that has grown in population since the reunification. Income comes mostly from tourism. Gurudeva's comment about Weimar devotees: quite an unusual crowd, they were quite mellow, usually Germans are really intense people.

The devotees are a nice, close knit community of university students and householders: no big leaders, no big programs; just simple, kind, loving and caring, free-flowing, non-rigidness.

East Germany has lots of unemployment. Practically every second person I spoke to didn't have a job. Even educated people have trouble finding themselves jobs. However, rent is very cheap. Living life does not cost much.

The programs are in a former slaughterhouse with very cheap rent. Even running just one program each week the congregation can easily afford to permanently rent the room.

DS Germany tour 2 day 1: Schloss

5 December 2006 | 1 Comments | Tags: ,

Devamrita Swami spent the night at my old home in Germany. He suggested I should take a course in lawyer's rhetoric for making a presentation and arguing. I need to learn negotiation and cynicism: to size up the opposition and get what you want (this was right after having been chewed up and spat out at yet another PhD interview).

Another idea: sales training. Salesmen need to anticipate possible objections, never say something one could answer 'no" to.

While at my parents' house he saw a picture of my playing the cello. He said:

"I didn't know you played the cello, you should play it in kirtan. Use all skills in Krishna's service."

He then also saw a picture of my sailin a boat:

"I didn't know you sailed, when was that?"

In the morning he visited expert physiotherapist who had been practicing for 27 years to treat his whiplashed neck. "There is a definite difference between a good physiotherapist and an ordiany masseure", the physiotherapist explained. "The physio has much more knowledge of how the body works". This guy loved his job and spent 30 minutes loosening the Gurus stiff neck.

DS continued to ask lots of questions about the event from various pictures of me my parents have all over the house. My graduation, sailing, my playing musical instrument, etc.

He appreciated the quiet area/house. I served Gurudeva an all-organic breakfast: apples, oranges, grapes, strawberries, millet with raw sugar and maple syrup. I found German food to be very high quality, much more so than in the UK. Or, maybe it's just what my body is used to from growing up there.

We went to briefly visit Schloss Rettershof. It is now a hotel, but 20 years ago it was a huge Hare Krishna centre. The devotees used to have 17 Mercedes sankirtan mini-vans with which travelling sankirtan parties used to fan out over the surrounding area every week. Everyone gathered back at the Schloss (castle) on Sunday for the Sunday Feast.
During this time GM was using Schloss Rettershof as a base to travel into Eastern Europe, communist Russia, and so on. Thus he wanted to see his old home once again.

Once when Srila Prabhupada visited Germany the devotees made a huge advertizing campaign to publicize his arrival. They had the idea to print and put up posters everywhere, announcing: "der F? 1/4 hrer kommt!" (the leader is coming), with a picture of Prabhupada under the writing. Of course, the word F? 1/4 hrer was commonly used to refer to Hitler. As one might imagine, the campaign caused quite a commotion and outcry. However, as a result thousands of curious people came to observe Prabhupada. The streets leading up to the temple were lined wall-to-wall for miles with curious people eager to catch a glimpse of the strange Indian "F? 1/4 hrer".

Gurudeva mentioned that my flat was very nice as a transfer location when switching continents (when jetlagged to the max). He said (mercifully) that my cooking skills were increasing. He especially liked my pasta salad. There is also quite a lot to be said for good facilities, large external computer monitor, high-speed wireless Internet, rebounder, quiet location, good prasadam.

Dina Sharana met and accompanied us on our trip to Weimar. She is the new Euro GBC for Germany. She talked a lot about the revival of ISKCON Germany. An endless task that she is working very hard to accomplish. Devamrita Swami jokingly calls her the Kaiserin (Empress).

DS visit day 5: flight

2 December 2006 | 0 Comments | Tags: ,

On this day we flew to Germany from Heathrow. While checking in at the airport there was some complication with the booking. The lady at the ticket desk spent what must have been 30 minutes merrily reading over regulations, filling out forms, discussing with her colleagues until finally issuing us with tickets. All was fine. Oh, the bureaucracy. GD's comment: only India comes close to the British standard of bureaucracy, and they learnt it from the British.

Uneventful flight to Frankfurt in a small plane ...
... and to my parents' house in Germany ...

Upcoming DS Germany tour 2 diary and podcasts

26 November 2006 | 35 Comments | Tags: ,

I've (finally) finished writing up my notes and editing the recording from a trip to Germany with my spiritual master in April 2006. I'll post these on this blog over the coming weeks.

So, the blog posting relating to the trip are obviously not in real time. They are from a long long time ago (a whole 6 months!).

Sloka Raja

16 October 2006 | 10 Comments | Tags: ,

I've created a system for memorizing Bhagavad-Gita verses called Sloka Raja.

Sloka Raja

You can go to the Sloka Raja website and see a series of verses hidden by a saffron veil. Each verse number is given in a tab along the top of the window. If you hover the mouse over the veil shrouding a particular verse, then that text's veil becomes transparent and you can "peek" at a single line of the original Sanskrit or the English translation. You can also click the mouse button and the text becomes permanently uncovered. Clicking again re-hides the verse.

Click the left and right arrows to scroll to other verses you want to memorize. You can also directly select and scroll to the verse you want to review by clicking on the appropriate tab on the top of the window.

Pressing the "change this verse" button on the bottom of the screen puts the verse display into "selection mode". Using this mode you can change the verse you want to learn to a different one. Simply select a new chapter and verse from the list in the window and that new verse will replace the current one. Press the "accept changes" button to switch back to the memorization view. In this way you can customize the view to learn different sets of verses as you desire.

The system always remembers your personal selection of verses. When you finish using the website simply close the window. There is no need to save. Sloka Raja remembers where you left off automatically. The next time you return the website recreates your personal view exactly as you left it. Everyone can choose their own personal set of verses to memorize on Sloka Raja. It remembers a different custom selection of verses for each and every user of the system.

Sloka Raja is written using pure Javascript / Dynamic-HTML, which means that it can run on every operating system and can be used offline as well as online. You do not have to be connected to the Internet to use the service. If you are using Internet Explorer just go to the website in "offline mode" and it will work as usual. Using Firefox or Safari download the service to your local hard drive using the "download for offline use" link on the bottom of the page and unpack the zip file. You can then run the program by executing the "run" application shortcut included in the download (or simply by opening "index.html" in your web-browser). It works as usual (although a bug/security feature in Safari prevents it from remembering your verse selection when you are offline). It is also worth noting that the Sanskrit won't look correct if you are using Internet Explorer 6.0 or below (IE doesn't know how to correctly display unicode). Upgrading to Internet Explorer 7.0 or Firefox solves the problem (I recommend Firefox).

Sloka Raja is available at the following URL:

http://www.slokaraja.com

If anyone notices any bugs or has any suggestions for improvement please let me know.

Gurudeva stop-over rest

2 October 2006 | 1 Comments | Tags:

My spiritual master visited me again for a few days. He arrived from Russia, having taken part in three huge festivals (in Hungary, Ukraine and Russia). One of his connecting flights was delayed and he ended having to stay overnight in an airport.

Needless to say, when he finally arrived he was exhausted. He came to Manchester to hide, rest and recover. Then, after two days of rest, onwards and upwards to more traveling and preaching all over the world.

During his stay I got to answer some computer questions. His laptop was acting up a little. He also inquired as to the possibilities and options for video recording and editing.

Krishna Katha was accompanying him on his travels and taking very good care of him. He took care of the tons and tons of washing and ironing that needed to be done for Guru Maharaja.
On the menu for his visit:

Day 1:

  • Salad with cherry tomatoes and olive oil and lemon juice dressing
  • Carrot, sweet potato, zucchini and brussels sprout coconut curry (he liked the brussel sprouts and asked for more, but he didn't like the carrots)
  • Basmati and white rice with fennel
  • Corn on the cob
  • Green bean and broccoli samosas
  • Tomato chutney
  • Dorset apple cake (half of which I almost burned, but he liked it anyway)
  • Apple and ginger juice (my juicer started smoking just after finishing the juice - yet another case of shoddy cheap made-in-China electronics that break just after the warranty runs out)

Day 2:

  • Basmati and white rice with turmeric
  • Salad with radishes and tahini dressing
  • Tomato and spinach subji (too spicy, apparently)
  • Asparagus and (red) bell pepper subji
  • Sweet potato pie
  • Tomato chutney
  • Vanilla dream cookies
  • Peppermint tea

Hitesh => Radhikesa dasa

18 September 2006 | 7 Comments | Tags: ,

Just got word that Hitesh has been initiated by his spiritual master (Devamrita Swami) during the recent festival in New Vraja dhama, Hungary. His initiated name is Radhikesa dasa. I'm really happy for him. Who would have known that a photography student from Manchester would become such a great humble servant in the Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya?

Here is a picture from the ceremony:

Your name is: Radhikesa dasa

Devamrita Swami: How much Krishna consciousness do you want to bite off?

6 September 2006 | 1 Comments | Tags: ,


There is a force that makes us act in the material world, even though we do not know what we are doing, or why we are doing it. We propose a new standard of intelligence: someone who can see this temporary material energy acts is a truly brilliant scientist. Not someone who can merely create some brilliant technology.

We need to understand that we should give the best of our lives to Krishna.

So, how much Krishna consciousness do you want to bite off?

We need to overhaul our lifestyle.

Who gives the best advice? What is the "absolute"? Where do you go to get knowledge of your true identity?

Please say: "give me the Bhagavad-Gita"

Conditioned life means denying Krishna - in a variety of ways. Some people have a fear that by focusing too much on Krishna they become limited or sectarian.

Where did personalism come from? Who is the best (unlimited) person? As soon as we acknowledge someone as a person that means there is personal obligation. We have calculated that the best way we can get on with our enjoyment program is to ignore the person Krishna. We have ourselves brainwashed into thinking: "I have no time"

We must have a progressive plan how to go forward in Krishna consciousness, otherwise the material world will pull us back.

Questions:

  • But I don't have enough disciple to practice all of Krishna consciousness.
  • I see disciple as just following the teaching, not some victorian thing imposed upon us.
  • Will I appreciate Krishna consciousness if I just subject myself to it?
  • It seems like we should just read to enjoy the verse, not thinking "if I read this verse it is going to make me x,y,z". We should be attached to the result, right?
  • Will our freedom always be limited?
  • You say that real religion does not require you to believe in anything, but can be experienced in the laboratory, but then you say some faith must be there in the beginning?
  • Vivekananda said that it is very good to be born in a church, but it is very bad to die in it, because you do need some kind of system when you are at the embryonic stage until you can stand alone.
  • Perhaps she is talking about when you come to the spiritual platform from the material platform?
  • Isn't it up to you to find you path? How can you say that somebody else's path is not valid?
  • There are so many maps by so many different religions, all claiming to be valid.
  • It really winds me up when I'm told "whatever you do, it has to go to Krishna". How do I do it? Do I have to go all the way into the laboratory, since I can't talk to Krishna directly? I can also misinterpret what I hear.
  • Surely you can chant someone's glories by talking about him, not just by chanting?
  • I want to be convinced that this is the path.
  • In the Bible it says "in the beginning was the word", but the translation of the original greek is "logos" which means "conversation", like the Bhagavad-Gita's conversation between Krishna and Arjuna.
  • I think in the Indian mentality there is a lot of thinking "I can be God", but in the Christian world people don't consciously think that. Also, a Muslim is always thinking that the best position is to be a servant of God. Not how he can become God.
  • Do we not believe in Advaita? Becoming one with God does not mean wanting to be God.
  • If you become realized you are a part of the whole is that still duality? Is the thing that is left after the body decays is not the whole?
  • We need sat-sanga discussion to understand what we are reading, otherwise there will be so many misconceptions.

Gurudeva stopover: day 1 + 2

6 September 2006 | 50 Comments | Tags:

My spiritual master, Devamrita Swami, recently visited my humble little abode. Not much to report. I was so busy serving and arranging things that I didn't ask him any questions. Actually, all the many worries, doubts and concerns that had been on my mind evaporated in his association. I ended up not needing to ask him anything.

Hitesh was traveling with Guru Maharaja. He is due to get initiated at the Ukraine festival sometime very soon (or perhaps it has happened already). It was nice to see old gloomy Manchester resident Hitesh (judging by his old passport photo) literally glowing in his saffron robes. Krishna consciousness creates happiness. No question about it (Lilamayi Subhadra also thinks so).

The two of us worked together nicely cooking for the Guru. Here is what we prepared on the two (and a half) days:

Day 1:

  • Salad with radishes and carrots
  • Basmati rice with wild rice
  • Tomato soup with zucchini
  • Stir fried broccoli and sweet potato subji
  • Organic corn on the cob (which he really liked; it was the first time I found organic corn in the local ASDA supermarket)
  • Wholemeal easy apple pie with vegan custard

Day 2:

  • Salad with cherry tomatoes and cucumber
  • Yellow basmati rice with wild rice
  • Oven roasted vegetables with rosemary
  • Spicy spinach and tomato subji
  • Split mung dal soup
  • Wholemeal carrot and sunflower seed cookies

Day 3:

  • Cauliflower and pea samosas for the flight (which weren't quite spicy enough, apparently)

GD visit day 3: part-2, evening in Cardiff

27 April 2006 | 0 Comments | Tags: ,

Evening Soul Talk in Cardiff Soul Centre. One notable guest was Taj, a lady doing a PhD in marketing. She was kicking the advertising for the soul centre into high-gear. Being a marketing guru (as GD called her), she knew how to create a whole portfolio of offerings, membership schemes, advertisements, press releases, etc. The Soul Centre has already benefited enormously from her expertise.

GD??(TM)s advice:

??oeOur duty is just to keep on trying to present Krishna consciousness to the people, even if there seems to be no success. Very soon people will become more desperate and suddenly there will be a huge demand. Just like when the Iron Curtain came down. It was so sudden. It surprised everyone, even the CIA. A similar thing can happen anytime. From one day to the next everyone may suddenly want to practice Krishna consciousness.??

My new phone served me well. It enabled all the communication that allowed me to better serve my spiritual master throughout the day. I managed to chant 35 rounds throughout the day. Long car trips be thanked.

After the program we drove down to Swansea for futher adventures in Krishna consciousness.

GD visit day 3: part-1, off to Cardiff

26 April 2006 | 0 Comments | Tags: ,

I wake up, chant, fix breakfast, do a mondo-ironing session, arrange an appointment with a physiotherapist in Germany (where we would soon be going), sort out a change in driver (Mark the Driver would now transport us to Cardiff), pack my bag, answer intermittent computer questions and fix a simple lunch (due to limited time):

Cooked:

  • rocket and carrot salad
  • tahini pasta salad (used up all the spare vegetables, which would have otherwise spoiled while I was away)
  • lentil and tomato soup
  • corn on the cob
  • (samosas and cake from two days ago were deemed too old by GD)

And, at 14:00, off we went. Next stop: Cardiff, Wales.

Pictures from Gurudeva visit and tour

24 April 2006 | 0 Comments | Tags: ,

27|1Ahead of the rest of the travel diary: here the pictures from my recent trip. Locations are as follows:

GD visit day 2: advice

23 April 2006 | 0 Comments | Tags:

Gurudeva was riding in a small Toyota in Los Angeles. Mukunda and Carana Renu were in the back seats. They were stopped at a traffic light when a SUV slammed into the back of the car. The driver had taken his eyes off the road and didn??(TM)t notice the red light and stopped car. The SUV hit them so hard that you could read its license plate number on the rear bumper of the Toyota. Thankfully no one was seriously injured. No visible human damage.

Taking advice from David (a qualified nurse), I tried to arrange a doctor??(TM)s appointment for Gurudeva??(TM)s whiplash, but failed on the first few attempts. Damned be NHS bureaucracy!

Cooked:

  • wild/rice
  • spinach salad with carrot strips and tomatoes
  • french green beans
  • mixed vegetable curry with coconut milk
  • split mung dal soup
  • broccoli and pea samosas
  • peppermint tea

(GD??(TM)s comment: Hare Krishna ??¦)

I ironed a whole load of washing. I also re-scheduled a discussion with the various people that come to Vedicsoc. It had to be arranged around the only doctor??(TM)s appointment I could get at such short notice. A private doctor.

We took a taxi to a nearby private hospital. They, unlike the NHS, they were happy to see (paying) patients. Their doctors give generous 15 minute consultations (10 minutes is normal), or will even talk to a patient for 30 minutes (for double the price). All the staff were smiling and friendly - for good money, no doubt.

GD gave me some advice on how to conquer the PhD interviews:

I told the tale of my barely passing my end-of-year interview.

GD:

??oeDon??(TM)t see everything so negatively, the main thing is you passed, right? They are sharks. Don??(TM)t be a submissive momma??(TM)s boy, they won??(TM)t appreciate. Take a course in ps ychology of sales, law (both salesmen and lawyers need to anticipate possible objections and present arguments to make the sale/defined their clients), assertiveness, presentation, debating and/or negotiation.??

Other snippets of advice:

??oeIt??(TM)s not a teacher??(TM)s job to adopt the paradigm of the student. The teacher opens the student up to new paradigms. If someone asks for complex details, first give them the overall framework, only then do they have something to slot the complex details into. For example: you don??(TM)t entertain someone without knowledge who asks a really intricate computer question. They wouldn??(TM)t benefit from, or even understand the answer.??

Gurudeva visit day 1: arrival

22 April 2006 | 0 Comments | Tags:

My spiritual master Devamrita Swami arrived. He noted that the temperature was 5 C, the coldest he had experienced in over a year.

David drove us to my flat. He also gave advice about the best course of action to treat Gurudeva??(TM)s whiplash injury from a recent car crash he was involved in.

Upon arriving Gurudeva remarked:

??oeA rebounder! Just what I need??

I had bought a rebounder (miniature trampoline) the week before. Besides being great exercise, jumping on it also loosens up tight muscles (such as those resulting from a whiplash injury) and clears the lymphatic system. A good exercise programming consists of half an hour of bounding every second day with 4 minutes of lying down afterward. The rebounder is really convenient, too. It??(TM)s right there. So, no more excuses not to exercise.

Cooked:

  • wild/rice, rocket leaf salad + baby tomatoes
  • braised summer veg (almost added eggplant, but remembered at the last moment that GM doesn??(TM)t like it and left it out)
  • bengali sak (spinach)
  • peppermint tea
  • broccoli & pea samosas
  • David made a huge, super-healthy beetroot cake which GM consumed liberally throughout his visit

(GD??(TM)s comment: silence)

I had a conference paper rejected a few days before. I therefore spent the rest of the day rewriting the paper and submitted it to another conference for peer review.

Happiness of family life

20 March 2006 | 3 Comments | Tags:

"The happiness of Indian family life is ??¦ eating." - Srila Prabhupada

Germany tour #2 acknowledgements

20 November 2005 | 0 Comments | Tags: ,

20|1Over the following weeks I'll be posting lectures of my spiritual master, Devamrita Swami, recorded during his recent tour of Germany (be sure to subscribe by pressing the green button). Thanks to Guruvani for expertly recording these. I sadly could not join my guru on the tour due to poor health.

These pictures are of Guruvani's and Bhumna Krishna's visit to my parent's house in Germany shortly before jetting off to a far away country.

Initiation in Swansea (2005)

18 September 2005 | 0 Comments | Tags: , ,

18|1I've posted the audio and pictures of a recent initiation ceremony in Swansea, Wales. Devamrita Swami initiated two new disciples:

Simon, the ex-carpenter who built most of the Cardiff Soul Centre became:

Suki Krishna (Krishna who is always happy)

When they met for the first time Devamrita Swami took one look at Tara and thought: "She's a devotee. I recognized that this person is meant for serving Krishna without delay". After graduating with a degree in photography and spending a year in New Zealand very seriously and compassionately distributing books she became:

Sukanti Radha (Srimati Radharani with the sweet/auspicious voice)

Vyasa puja offering to Srila Prabhupada

30 August 2005 | 31 Comments | Tags: ,

Thank you Srila Prabhupada for all your transcendental literature. When I was first leaning about Krishna consciousness someone sold me a Krishna Book at the London Rathayatra (2001). I had previously tried to read your Bhagavad-Gita, but was too proud and contaminated with impersonalism and atheism to understand even a word of it. Then however, upon reading your so expertly composed Krishna Book my skeptic mentality was defeated.

"This is so amazing, it must be true, no one could have made something like this up", I though, reading pastime after pastime.

I would also like to thank you for all the amazing devotees you have cultivated, both directly and indirectly. Your power to transform people is extraordinary. You have taught by your personal example how to be a pure devotee of Krishna and have also empowered others to become acharyas in the same way. We are all eternally indebted to you for this. The only way to repay part of this unlimited debt is to pass it on to others.

I can see how my own spiritual master, your disciple Devamrita Swami, extends so much personal care and attention to me, just as you undoubtedly cared so much for him. I wish that I may also one day be able to help others in the same way. I have so much to learn about this Krishna conscious process. Please give me shelter at your lotus feet.

Your servant,
Candidasa dasa

Gurudeva visit snippets and cooking

25 August 2005 | 1 Comments | Tags:

DS: The body is meant for aching, might as well ache for Krishna.

DS: Herbs from the Amazon that will help your sore back.
BKD: Where do you get all this stuff, Gurudeva?
DS: Secrets of the Swamis.

DS: Yes, the famous Manchester rut. It's like a something that fossilizes you. A weight that pushes everyone down so they are unable to get up and free themselves. The mode of ignorance.

Cooked:

Day 1:
Cherry-Tomato lettuce salad
Kumara and Broccoli with Arrowroot
Green beans, peas and carrot subji
Split mung dal
Turmeric basmati rice with wild rice

Day 2:
Sak
Asparagus subji
Sweet potato pie
Radish, carrot and lettuce salad
Corn on cob
Brown basmati rice with wild rice

Modern technology

12 August 2005 | 51 Comments | Tags:

"We are not against the advancement of modern technology although it's suicidal."
- A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (the way only he could say it)

Cheating education system

10 August 2005 | 0 Comments | Tags: , ,

The UK government has decided to change the way university fees work. They claim this change is to help the poorest students to be able to afford an education. It's fairly complicated with different amounts of loans, bursaries, grants and fees. However, cutting through all the fluff, it turns out that, on-average, students starting university this September will end up paying about double the amount of money for their education (tuition fees have tripled, but do not need to be paid until after gradation).

Average student debt (from Natwest Student Money Matters Survey):
2002: ?£2,489
2003: ?£8,125

Estimated average student debt at graduation (from annual Barclays Student Survey):
2004: ?£12,069
2006: ?£17,561
2010: ?£33,708

According to the NatWest survey the average monthly expense of a student breaks down as follows (figures for 2004):

Rent: ?£289.60
Food shopping: ?£78.73
Alcohol: ?£74.14
Going out: ?£62.40
Cigarettes: ?£70.00
Clothes: ?£53.56
Eating out: ?£53.47
Utilities: ?£58.76
Transport: ?£54.56
Phone: ?£44.29
Books: ?£38.13
Monthly total: ?£877.64

The UK government isn't stupid. They have as a target: "to have 50% of young people enter higher education by 2010". Why do they want nearly everyone in the country to have the equivalent of NZ$ 100k debt? Is this some conspiracy to control the people?

Guru's answer: "It's the new version of the old serfdom.
University students now equal the peasantry."

Gurudeva stopover: day three

15 July 2005 | 0 Comments | Tags:

Snippet of advice: "Make the best Krishna conscious decision at the moment. Who knows what is going to happen in the future?"

CD: It is difficult dealing with people's packed schedule of engaging their senses in so many ways.
DS: Keep trying. The mode of passion is like that. They are like monkeys pointlessly swinging from branch to branch.
DS: Mode of goodness means that one is not attached to the result. It also means that one doesn't do just anything, but engages in mode of goodness activities.

Lunch:

Drink: Apple and Ginger juice
Salad: Carrot and Watercress Salad with Tahini sauce dressing (GVD page 127)
Cumin Basmati Rice with Wild Rice
Pea and Broccoli Samosas (my spicing was just a off by a bit)
Subji 1: Kumara, Corn and Spinach (variation of Sweet Potato Pie filling GVD page 91)
Subji 2: Tomato Soup with Zucchini (GVD page 27, but without flour)
Vanilla Raisin cookies (variation of Chinese Almond Cookies GVD page 141, needs more flour because of the extra liquid in the raisins)

Computer questions I answered:

  • As a travel wireless network router the Apple Airport Express is the best, lightest, smallest, most fully featured and easiest option. However, it costs nearly double the price of the competition. Nevertheless, I recommended the quality Apple product.
  • The Docupen and other pen-like hand-held scanners remain too flaky for actual use.
  • Flash memory stick prices have plummeted, since DRAM prices have fallen drastically.
    The reason: the iPod shuffle has not sold nearly as well as expected. Consequence 1: the Chinese and Taiwanese RAM manufacturers have overproduced. Consequence 2: more supply than demand. Result: price falls (hint: buy memory in the next few months!)
  • A digital camera for capturing spontaneous shots has to be small and light enough to carry around anywhere and capable of capturing clear images in low-light. I recommended the Fuji F10, an ultra-compact point-and-shoot with D-SLR-like ISO 1600 image capturing capability.

... and just like that, he was gone again. Off to helping people in far off countries ...

Gurudeva stopover: day two

15 July 2005 | 59 Comments | Tags: ,

Today he met with Hitesh and his mother. He also met with two youth workers who work to better the lives of 14 - 25 year-olds using a holistic 6-angled view. A recording of the conversation is available in the audio downloads section.

Lunch:

Drink: Apple and Ginger juice (not enough ginger)
Salad: Spinach and Tomato
Coriander Basmati Brown Rice with Wild Rice
Corn on the Cob
Subji 1: Kumara and Broccoli
Subji 2: Vegetable au Gratin (GVD page 56)
Carob Cake with Strawberry Jam filling and Vienna Icing (GVD page 151)

His response: You're good at the pies and cakes, Shilpa is good at subtle Indian spicings and flavours.