Tuesday, December 30, 2008

BenLoka's stay at the Bhaktivedanta Manor Temple

Famous Youtube Comedian, BenLoka recounts his 3 month stay, in the Bhakta Program, at the Hare Krishna temple in England, the Bhaktivedanta Manor.
He has also posted a full length lecture of His Holiness Radhanatha Swami, that was filmed at the Manor, which can be found on his other youtube page.
Hare Krishna
Your humble servant,
Nityananda Chandra Das
ps. Don't forget to subscribe to his channel

Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Krishnas!!!!!

Give the gift that keeps on giving.
In the Nectar of Devotion, Srila Prabhupada's magnificent summary study of Rupa Goswami's Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu, he describes the glories of pure bhakti.
Therein it is describes six features of pure bhakti.
  1. Krishna Consciousness bring relief from all distress. (Ajamil, the sinner saved)
  2. Krishna Consciousness is All Auspicious (the best welfare, BG 18.66)
  3. Krishna Consciousness produces supreme happiness (Material happiness temporary at best, Kholaveca Sridhara so poor but so happy)
  4. Extremely rare (Only bhakti can awaken bhakti)
  5. Bhakti minimizes the happiness of becoming One with Brahman (Prahlad says happiness of Bhakti is like an ocean whereas Brahmananda is like the small amount of water contained in a calfs footprint.
  6. Only Bhakti can attract Krishna. (Krishna says to Uddhava, "Nothing gets my heart like Bhakti"
These items are also summarized in the small book called Bhakti, The Art of Eternal Love.
Because of these reasons we are fortunate to participate in book distribution this month. Srila Prabhupada explained that the basis of giving others the opportunity to reawaken their Krishna Bhakti is by coming in to contact with Krishna Conscious books. Such books attract the heart to the All Attractive One, Sri Krishna. So for the past couple weeks during the weekends and as well as during the week we have been going out on book distribution.

All devotees are very ecstatic when they get the opportunity for this service. Here we see little Vrinda excited to pass out Kalachandji postcards.

The one that was really excited is 13 year old Govinda. He has been calling me everyday asking when we could go out again. Because of his enthusiasm I have been forced to go out almost daily. The picture on the top is of some young ladies who received books from Govinda. Everybody that we meet is eager to get these books, one young lady who didn't have any money gave us her lollipops in exchange for a book.

Last Sunday Mathuranatha and Dwaraka Prabhus did an amazing presentation about a newer and powerful way to distribute books about Krishna. It is called a Smart Box.

These boxes are so smart that they know how to alleviate all suffering and bring one to the service of Krishna. After the presentation at the Sunday Feast immediately 30 people signed up for smart boxes. Each box was to be their own project. Each signee purchased their own box and 20 small books and agreed to weekly stock the box at their own convenience. The method was that the devotees find a grocery store, salon, laundry mat, dentist/doctors office, etc, in their area and ask them for permission to place the box there. The same devotee then goes back every week to restock the box with more books and use the money to purchase more stock. It is genius! Brhat Mrdanga Sankitan Ki Jaya!!
Your humble servant,
Nityananda Chandra das

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Interfaith Concert

Some months ago I did a tour and interview for a youth group from Munger Place United Methodist Church. These high school youths were chaperoned by their minister Ernest McMillan. The interview went really nicely. One of the key discussions that was brought about was in regards to the four legs of Dharma

  • Satyam (Honesty/Truthful)
  • Saucam (Cleanliness of the mind and body)
  • Tapa (selfcontrol/austerity)
  • Daya (compassion/mercy)

and the corresponding four regulative priniciples

  • Not gambling for honesty
  • Not engaging in intoxications, going clean, keeping the mind and body clean
  • Not engaging in illicit sex life, having a sense of self control and a sense of working for a high pleasures
  • Not supporting slaughter houses and animal killing and thus mitigating ones sense of compassion.
Later Minister McMillan contacted me and told me that all the kids really appreciated the talk and that he would like to see more of us. I told him that he should see us perform the 100 devotee harinam that happens every month here in Dallas which was happening that Saturday. He came downtown and really enjoyed parading around with us in sankirtan harinam and thus he asked us if we could partake in a Interfaith Concert that he had organized.

We were in the middle in the line up of performers. There were performers of many faiths. There was a Christian dance performance, Jewish band, African band, and many others as well. Soon after starting our kirtan performance the Christian dance troup joined in on the kirtan, dancing in glorification of the Supreme.

The concert was very nice and we look forward to serving with Brother Ernest in the furture.
Hare Krishna
Your humble servant,
Nityananda Chandra Das

This is a short video clip that my wife took with our camera, you can see Brother Ernest dancing and clapping on side.

And this is the full lenght video recorded by Rupa Madhurya Prabhu
of Rupa.com

Commercial about Chanting Hare Krishna

ISKCON Dallas temple host Refugees from Bhutan

The Kingdom of Bhutan, the landlocked country, in South Asia, has adopted a policy of forced Buddhism. Although the country is largely Buddhist, 75%, many do not wish to be forced into another tradition. These individuals are forced to leave the country as refugees to start a life elsewhere. Many whom have to start over with new careers and need to be trained in the modern occupations of the west. Some time ago a business man with an interest in helping the some 150 refugees that three months arrived in Dallas had met with our temple president, Nityananda Prabhu. Nityananda Prabhu, eager to help, had arranged him to invite the refugees to the temple for kirtan and prasadam. These refugees were devout Vaishnavas, devotees of Sri Krishna, and thus they were elated about having the opportunity to visit the local Krishna temple here in Dallas.
When they arrived everyone noticed the simplicity, lack of harshness, and pureness of heart of these Vaishnavas. They were not yet fully under sway of Western materialism and thus their presence created a very sweet atmosphere like that of holy places such as Vrindavan and Govardhan. They had not migrated to America for the promise of greater wealth, and material pleasures but rather just for the freedom of their devotion to their Lord, Sri Krishna. The program was started by a wonderful bhajan lead by Rupa Madhurya Prabhu, then the popular Anish Prabhu from Houston dazzled everyone with his angelic voice. Followed by Dallas' very own Haridas Prabhu. All danced in bliss to the kirtan during the artik ceremony which was followed by the refugees singing their own favorite bhajans. It was wonderful to hear them sing the very same bhajans the are sung by local devotees in Vrindavan Dhama.
After the kirtan and artik all went upstairs to the Sanctuary hall and partook in a wonderful feast delicious vegetarian chili and rice and many other dishes offered to Krishna with love and devotion.
Hare Krishna
Your humble servant,
Nityananda Chandra Das

PS. if anyone would like to assist there are many things that one can do to help these devotees. Many need to learn skills such as driving, etc, so that they can financially support themselves in the US. Contact us at INFO (at) RadhaKalachandji dott com

Saturday, December 6, 2008

about the gurukula meeting

ok, so we had a meeting last night about the gurukula......and I walked out after about an hour or so, with my unruly daughter because I felt as though I crashed the meeting by bringing my child...of course, I was under the impression that the children were what the meeting was all about.
Since I was not really noticed except by the sweet mataji that felt the need to continually shush my child for making noise with crayons, I have a few points I would like to bring up here...
We desperately need a PreSchool and we need to include ALL of our children. ALL OF THEM...there should not be a choice in whether we should send them to the Montossori school, or the public school down the street because it is more convienent...we are raising DEVOTEE children and they should be in a KRISHNA CONSCIOUS school...period...if you are not sending them to gurukula, then you are not raising devotee kids. Srila Prabhupada opened this school in Dallas for our kids to get an education not only in ABC's and 123's but in our belief system, so that when these kids grow up and move out into a vicious material world they will be PREPARED to meet any and all obstacles with the FAITH and DEVOTION that was instilled in them in the gurukula...and this needs to start in PreSchool and Kindergarten, not in the 3rd grade when they have learned all kinds of nonsense from outside sources....yeah, I know my kid will grow up knowing others eat meat, but I dont want them sitting next to someone at school who is eating it and learn about it from exposure. I quote Srila Prabhupada....

"From the very beginning they should be trained up. From the body, they should be trained up how to take bath, how to chant Hare Krsna or some Vedic mantra, go to the temple, offer obeisances, prayer, then take their lunch... In this way, they should be always engaged. Then they'll be trained up. Simple thing.

If children are allowed to play just like Krishna was playing with his cowherd boyfriends, then little ABC, then see the deity and have arati, then take little prasadam; in this way if they are always diversified, they will be always jolly and become fixed-up devotees at young age. And small children, they learn better these things from their mother and women in general. So I thing that some mothers of our children should go to Dallas and take charge of teaching the children, especially how to play nicely the pastimes of young Krishna. If you ask one child to be a tree, he will immediately hold out his arms "Just see I am a tree." If you ask him to be a cow he will walk on his hands and knees immediately and you can hit him with a stick and say "hut, hut." And if they will not take prasadam you can say "Now you are a cow and you must eat the grass" and immediately they will stand on hands and legs and eat prasadam like cow eating grass. So in this way our children in Dallas school should be trained because I want that a new generation of devotees shall carry on this great mission successfully".

About the concern with other people who would want to send their kids to our school based on academics and might not want them exposed to our religion......ummm...if they dont want their kids around Hare Krishnas then they need to find another school...again I quote...

"We have to concentrate to give them some idea about God--that should be our first business. In art class they should be encouraged to draw pictures of Krsna, Kuruksetra, etc. There are so many subjects for drawing as it is stated in our book Krsna. If they are trained, they will come out nice devotees. It will depend on the process of training."

sorry, but I know a lot of kids that have been enrolled in Catholic school, and even though they are not Catholic, they are still required to wear the uniform and got to Mass and Confession.... if their parents dont want them to do that, then they need to find another school...I think if someone wanted to send their kid to the gurukula based on the academics, then they would not have a problem with the religion, I mean, they had to be open minded enough to find us in the first place, right? Again I quote Srila Prabhupada..
"They will never accept that one must undergo austerities to break the influence of the modes of material nature upon the living entity in order that he may experience the transcendental bliss on the platform of pure goodness. Therefore they see our school as a threat and a cruel punishment to the children. If we were to run our school as it was actually to be run, they would close it down, and factually they will place more and more codes and restrictions as the school develops to water down the process until it becomes unrecognizable and useless."

Which brings me to the inclusion of religion in the school...THIS IS VITAL!!!!!
We are a religiously based school...the kids should be required to attend morning program, and have religious instruction throughout the day, not just on Monday but everyday. They need to learn instruction in being a devotee, they need to learn how to chant japa in the early grades, to memorize verses in the Gita in the middle grades, to be able to debate the Bhagavatam in high school...along with academics that we already know the school provides on an exemplary basis. I have no qualms that our gurukula can supply my children with a better education than they can get down the street at the local public school...but if that was all I wanted for them then I would send them there...
Bottom line....we all need to get involved with the gurukula, all our children should be attending and it needs to go back to what Srila Prabhupada wanted it to be... I will leave you with this last treat from Srila Prabhupada
" The most important thing however is to see that somehow or other the children are always engaged in some kind of Krsna conscious activity, then they will naturally develop a taste for it and think it great fun even to work very hard for Krsna's pleasure."

Friday, November 28, 2008

Tis the Season

No I am not talking about Thanksgiving, Christmas, or even Hanukkah. Every year during the months of October and November, particularly the Karttik Season our temple is inundated with guests who come for their college, high school, and church youth group projects. For example in a 2 week period during that time I had spoken with over 200 students about the philosophy of Krishna Consciousness. We find that this phenomena happens during the same time every year. Hundreds upon hundreds of students come in droves to learn about Krishna, it is quite exciting.
Throughout the many years, the teachers of such students have developed very nice relationships with the devotees and have also developed appreciation of the temple as a whole. Some teachers have been bringing their students in every year to this temple for projects from as late as 1969. This undoubted goes a credit for Srila Prabhupada and many of his sincere disciples, such as His Holiness Tamal Krishna Goswami, who developed this temple. The temple is replete with gorgeous Rajasthani style paintings of Krishna's pastimes painted by the famous artist BG Sharma. The serene restaurant with its beautiful courtyard, granite top tables, and amazing international buffet attracts visitors from all across the land.

I have been asked before how is it that we have such nice programs for guests at out temple Why are so many guests coming on a regular basis. My answer was that I have nothing to do with it. All the blood, sweat, and tears have been spent long before I ever came here. My only duty is to teach the guests about Krishna, the manificent facility that attracts many to learn about Krishna is a result of Srila Prabhupada fervent devotion and the devotion of his dear disciples.

This photo we are with Professor David Brantley. He teaches a religion class for students of a presigious Episcopalian High School. He brings students from Canterbury High School every year for our major festivals such as Govardhana Puja, and Rama Navami. Lat year I taught a Bhagavad Gita class to two classes of students, these students had come to the temple prior to our trip to their school so they were very excited. One teacher even had to stop her class because her students had an intense desire to also attend the Bhagavad Gita Class. As a result of the class apparently one the students became vegetarian.

with Prasadam smiles

Prior our class he asked us to harinam in the hallways. Before the harinam every was fed delicious prasadam from Kalachandji's restaurant as well. So this year as well all the the students were anxious. Some had the opportunity a week earily to attend with their teacher our Govardhana Puja festival, which sported the 8ft long carob cake of Govardhana Hill. The festival this year was attended by more than 50 students. There were students from SMU, TCU, Moutain View CC, Canterbury High and more. The festival was absolutely amazing and therefore when we came to their school all the students were totally elated.

Hare Krishna
Your humble servant,
Nityananda Chandra Das

ps. to read about a wonderful elementary school Krishna Conscious program we did last year click here

Wise worker appreciate Srila Prabhupada's Books

Photos taken at Barnes and Noble in the Staff recommended books section.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Our Ratha Yatra Trip Day 3 & 4

Ratha Yatra Day 3 - Saturday August 2nd, 2008

San Clemente
Off to see the family in San Clemente this morning. It it my nephew's Kai's first birthday. So we rented a car with some help from my mom and drove down there to see all the family. Kai is the son of my cousin Malia, she was the chief editor for Surfers Magazine and her husband the main underwater photographer. Malia and VisakhaThis is her with my Uncle Doug IMG_0004
Visakha and MeAt Malia's HouseVisakha and Me

IMG_0018I am blessed to have a nice family that is not uncomfortable with vegetarianism and Krishna Consciousness in general. We spent the afternoon there and as time went on it turned into a big baby fest. There was about a total of 14 babies that showed up with all their parents. It was very nice but as time went on began to worry about making it back for the famous Saturday Night Harinama held on Santa Monica Promenade. Kimo, Malia, Pam and USSo around 4pm we left to drive back to Los Angeles. At the temple we met up with some of the devotees and began to head down to harinam spot. There was some confusion this year however where the harinama would be. There was some discussion that the party would be split. One at the beach and one at the Promenade. We heard that one at the beach was finished so we ventured to regular harinam at the Promenade. When we got there devotees were enthusiastic but they had no amplification, it seemed that their equipment failed. As we chanted and danced we noticed more and more devotees showing up for the harinam. Many smiling faces were seen amongst the crowd of on lookers and it very joyful.

Day 4 - Sunday August 3rd, 2008

This morning I was fortunate to attend the mangala artik which takes place at 4:30am every morning. This program is always refreshing for the heart. Some time after the program we returned back to the hotel so that Visakha could nap. However we could not make it when attempting to return to the temple for the Guru Puja at 7am. I was quite upset about this because I missed a really nice kirtan and as Krishna states in the Bhagavad Gita 2.63 "From anger, complete delusion arises, and from delusion bewilderment of memory." My old friend Vrajendra Prabhu came by and showed me the studio where he teaches Iyengar yoga classes across the street from the temple. Some time after coming back from the yoga studio I noticed that my bead bad was missing. I swore that I had not had my bead bag since I was in the temple room, so my disturbed mind convinced me that someone must have moved it, or perhaps even had stolen it. I wandered all over place asking for help, but no one had seen it. I called the my phone repeatedly which was with the bead bag. I was not only lamenting the loss of by chanting beads, but also my cell phone as well. After repeated calls my phone was then turned off and immediately the calls were going to voicemail. This confirmed my suspicions that my bead bag was stolen. Finally some intelligent soul suggested that I watch the camera recorded footage. I was able to track down Mayapursasi Prabhu after some time and I begged him it he could help me. Even though this was probably one of his busiest days of the year he agreed to help this silly soul. So with his expertise we were able to find the crook. It was me!!! Actually it was anger which stole away my intelligence. I watched myself walk over to Vrajendra's yoga studio bead bag in hand and walk back empty handed. One of the yoga instructors had turned off the phone because it was disturbing the class.

I was greatly relieved, and took some resolution to heart to be more careful with my sacred japa beads.
Nityananda Chandra, Visakha Anjali, and Krishna Mangala Krishna Mangala, Visakha Anjali, Bhaktine Angela
We headed to the ecstatic festival. As like every year we got to see Bhakta Milo. Milo is the blue haired boy who shows up for Ratha Yatra every year. Although he is 15 years old he has been to 12 or more Ratha Yatras. This is really interesting because he parents are not devotees of Krishna and neither has been to temple very much, but he always makes a point to come to the festival every year and dance in the Harinam Kirtan.

The kirtan to the park was absolutely great and the park festival was amazing. So many attractions, so many different ways that people can learn about Krishna. Dramas, kirtans, bands, dances, food, philosophy. So many fun things to participate in.
Visakha in particular was extremely fond of the strawberry smoothies. It was her first smoothie and she truly relished it.

Hare Krishna

Your humble servant,
Nityananda Chandra Das
p.s. last 3 photos are by Dalia, she is a great photographer you can see some her work here DaliaShiva.com

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Our LA Ratha Yatra Trip Day 1 & 2

LA Ratha Yatra Trip Day 1 -Thursday July 31st, 2008

Who can estimate the kindness of devotees, and the kindness of Krishna. We have been awaiting the climatic day of visiting Los Angeles and seeing all the wonderful devotees who congregate at this event. A day before our departure I received a letter from Bhaktine Dalia who was acting as a host and offered us her apartment as a place to stay. She kindly offered us this help even though she had yet to meet us in person and had only known of us through a web and also a friend of ours. Here is an excerpt from her letter,

“I've been thinking how I could make things more convenient for you since you're probably gonna be spending a lot of time at the temple,and I have to work this weekend.
So I got you a room at the Culver hotel,which is like 3 minutes away from the temple and very close to Venice beach. It's on my name and it's already charged to my card so there's nothing for you guys to worry about. I just wanted you to enjoy your stay here in LA and I feel that Krishna wanted me to do this service for his devotees. So please let me serve you.
I'm sending a driver to pick you up tomorrow at 1 pm,and I will meet you at the hotel,which is also close to the airport. His name is Bar and he will be there waiting for you.

Ok,so I hope you have a wonderful flight and I will see you tomorrow afternoon.
Hare Krishna”

Reading this letter in amazement I was baffled by the amount of kindness that was offered. She surely has a devotional heart. It troubled me about how I could possibly reciprocate. I thought, a ha, “What girl would not like nice clothes” so my wife and I decided to bring her one of her fancy saris and teach her how to put it on.

Dalia, Krishna Mangala, Visakha, and Nityananda Chandra
Krishna Mangala and Bhaktine Dalia

I also thought that I should do what ever possible to encourage her in her spiritual life. So today all of us went to the temple and for her it was the first time. She really enjoyed her experience. My wife and her first visited the gift shop, then we all honored delicious prasadam at Govinda’s.

We were in the presence with many wonderful devotees. HH Jayadvaita Swami, HG Vaiseshika Prabhu and others were a few of the senior devotees that we had the opportunity to see. We also got to meet Jagat Jivan Prabhu for the first time which was nice for we had only previously spoke on the internet. We then went to the fantastic Bhagavad Gita animatronics museum. After the museum Dalia met a devotee friend of ours that was from the same city that she was from, Zagreb in Croatia. They spoke some time in their native tongue and then we were all off to the temple for Darshan of Their wonderful Lordships, Sri Sri Gaura Nitai, Sri Sri Rukmini Dvarakadish, and Sri Sri Jagannatha, Baladeva, and Subhadra. Sri Sri Rukmini Dvarakadish
Sri Sri Gaura Nitai

Who were all lovingly praised by Kirtan lead by HG Gauravani Prabhu . Here is a little clip from that bhajan.

We then returned home only to be drawn to come back again in the evening. In the evening we were graced by Bhakta Ben and Tulasi and surprisingly we also ran into Premanjana and many other devotees from Florida, Oregon, and Kansas City as well. It was unexpected to see Premanjana whom accidentally arrived there. Many of you may know him as the driver for the Festival Of India's semi truck. Every year he has the service of being a driver for the Festival Of India and attends every Ratha Yatra throughout the US especially the very big one that happens in Los Angeles. However this year he working as a truck driver so that he can buy some land in Mississippi where the devotees have a farm community. His trucking company just happened to send him to the Los Angeles for the weekend of Ratha Yatra Festival!

Day 2 -Friday August 1st, 2008

At the Gurupuja program in the morning I was happy to see more devotee friends from all around the US. Ratha Yatra is truly like a family reunion. Not only you get to see old family but you get to make new family members as well. We always make a point to bring along some new souls to Ratha Yatra festivals because such events are powerful in inspiring one in the service of the Lord.
Jaya Kesava and Visakha
With Amyavilas Maharaja
With Godbrother Partha Sarathi
Sri Sri Rukmini Dvarakadish
Sri Sri Gaura Nitai
Sri Sri Jagannatha Baladeva and Subhadra
Later in the evening we were fortunate to attend the amazing drama put on by the youth of the Krishna Bus Tour. This play was directed originally by His Holiness Bhaktimarg Swami and anyone who knows him knows that he is an dramitical arts genius. But because he was not able to attend it was directed, and narrated very nicely by Amala Purana Prabhu.
Young Kunti basking in the Sun rays
Kunti and Karna bathing in rays of the Sun
IMG_8066IMG_8069BhimaDraupadi Arjuna Bhima and YudhisthirNot even one inch of landKarna and Krishna
Elder Kunti offers her prayers to KrishnaElderly Kunti and Lord Krishna
Hare Krishna
Your humble servant,
Nityananda Chandra Das

....little late, :)