Thursday, 23 February 2017

Monday, February 20th, 2017

Mayapur, India

Talking to the Monks

It was the first time in days to feel a breeze coming.  Most likely it has something to do with Mother Ganga, who moves with speed, and carries air currents which piggy-back on her.  In any event, the cool gusts are welcoming.  Ascending the stairs of the Lotus Building was the opportune time for the experience.

Now, I was honoured to be asked to present myself as a full-fledged monk of thirty-three years (and ten celibate brahmachari years before that) in front of a class of soon-to-be-ordained sanyasis (monks).  There were thirty of them, representing the U.S., Europe, Russia, Bengal, and Bangladesh.  My impression of the group was that they are mature, sober (a word our guru, Srila Prabhupada, used to denote cool-headed), good listeners, appreciative….

Krsna Ksetra Swami, the co-ordinator, had asked that I present a biographical opening.  Of course that included how I began my walking excursions.  I then walked everyone through the Society’s 7 Purposes (of ISKCON).  He suggested I bring up personal, relevant points to do with the renounced order.

At least three bullet points were:

1)    Encourage wholesome family life, as most people on the spiritual path will not become fully renounced anyway.

2)    Do not become wholly dependent on others. Learn some self-reliance—as a sanyasi many people will be inclined to do many menial tasks for you

3)    Watch out for the adoration; always take a humble position

A a fourth would be:

4)    Example is better than precept, or as St. Francis of Assisi is attributed to have said, “Preach…and, if you have to, use some words.”

May the Source be with you!

6 km

Sunday, February 19th, 2017

Mayapur, India

Starting Trends

It looks like we started a kind of cult among the kids with our drama, “Mr. Puri.”  We presented this endearing story to the school.  We are hearing that some children have viewed it as many as four times.  They’re singing at school one of our songs, “Gopal, Gopal, we’re looking everywhere.”  When the public see the actors, they call them by their names in the play.  Pariksit, one of the actors, speaks of his threatening dog, Pinto, in the drama.  When Pariksit is seen on the street, they call out, “Pinto!  Pinto!”  They also ask Jambhavan, another one of the actors, from South Africa, if he could do his dance move “the worm” which he pulls off expertly in the show.

It’s trail-blazing, in a good way.  The compulsion to imitate, or recall, well-motivated stories, lilas, centered around spiritual themes is a good thing.

After hearing a Bhagavatam class from Guru Prasada Swami, an American-born monk, I met Uttama Sloka Swami, who gently pulled me over to the side and said, “Maharaja, you have begun a new fashion.  You are using your uttariya (beggars cloth, usually tied around the neck) and draping it over the shoulder, like a chauddar (shawl).  Other sannyasis are following your lead on this.”

To the swami making the remark, I had this to say. “When I do my marathon walks in the mind-swept prairies, the uttariya flings in the air in a most unmanageable way, so I wear it like most folks in India.  I do get my dhoti (lower garment) sewn so the cloth is like a tube you step into.  The strong wind can’t send it in a way to expose yourself.  Also it keeps your legs warmer in Canadian coolness.”

There’s a method to the madness.

May the Source be with you!

6 km

Saturday, February 18th, 2017

Mayapur, India

Message of the Day

Before our meeting, I had the privilege of reading out the verse of the day.  Sometimes it is a personal letter our guru has written to someone.  If you don’t quite know all the persons mentioned in this passage (from the Bhagavatam) at least you can glean something from the verse and purport.

From Bhagavatam 1.9.12:

Bhīṣmadeva said: Oh, what terrible sufferings and what terrible injustices you good souls suffer for being the sons of religion personified. You did not deserve to remain alive under those tribulations, yet you were protected by the brāhmaṇas, God and religion.

Purport by Srila Prabhupada:

Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira was disturbed due to the great massacre in the Battle of Kurukṣetra. Bhīṣmadeva could understand this, and therefore he spoke first of the terrible sufferings of Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira. He was put into difficulty by injustice only, and the Battle of Kurukṣetra was fought just to counteract this injustice. Therefore, he should not regret the great massacre. He wanted to point out particularly that they were always protected by the brāhmaṇas, the Lord and religious principles. As long as they were protected by these three important items, there was no cause of disappointment. Thus Bhīṣmadeva encouraged Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira to dissipate his despondency. As long as a person is fully in cooperation with the wishes of the Lord, guided by the bona fide brāhmaṇas and Vaiṣṇavas and strictly following religious principles, one has no cause for despondency, however trying the circumstances of life. Bhīṣmadeva, as one of the authorities in the line, wanted to impress this point upon the Pāṇḍavas.

May the Source be with you!

5 km