Wednesday, May 28, 2008

New Sunday Schedule Day 1

Last Sunday was the first day that our new Sunday schedule was in full effect. The new changes are quite invigorating. Our previous schedule always had the problem of having very poor attendance in the Sunday class, thus many of the guest and congregation were not receiving the proper nourishment of Krishna Conscious philosophy and Katha. Thus according to the desire and direction of devotees, along with the instruction of the GBC’s SSPT initiatives, we changed our Sunday schedule.
Kirtan has always been a highlight of our program so there was a great desire of the all devotees to maintain the 1 hour kirtan for the main artik. In our previous schedule the class would start at 5pm and would end by 6pm for the artik. During the end of the class there would be about 10 people attending, and a large group waiting in the hall way for the conch to blow announcing the appearance of the Lord. This followed by a wonderful kirtan, Nrisimha prayers, and announcements followed by Tulasi puja. Some of the congregation showed some concern that they were not getting sufficient opportunity to learn about Krishna Consciousness, therefore is was greatly refreshing to see how enthusiastic the congregation took to the new schedule.
So first we start off at 5pm with a few devotees doing bhajans leading into the main Artik which is at 5:30pm. The kirtan was very nicely lead by Haridas, followed by Bhadra, and several other devotees. This was followed by Nrisimha prayers at 6:30pm along with announcements. By this time the temple room is full with about 250 devotees and guests, we had a hand count of about 18 newcomers. About 2 hours earlier I was asked to give class. The suggestion was to speak from 9th or 10th chapter of the Bhagavad Gita. I struggled however to find the right verse. My attention was drawn to the 3rd chapter and picked this verse.
Bhagavad-gītā As It Is 3.27
prakṛteḥ kriyamāṇāni
guṇaiḥ karmāṇi sarvaśaḥ
kartāham iti manyate
“The spirit soul bewildered by the influence of false ego thinks himself the doer of activities that are in actuality carried out by the three modes of material nature.”

The class was primarily about the difference between the body and the soul and the symptoms of transcendence. A question was brought up by a devotee asking, “What is the difference between Krishna Consciousness and Christianity?” He had brought with him several Nepali families who were mostly likely Christian, hence the question. The answer given was that virtually that there is no difference in between the teachings of Christ and Krishna Consciousness. However one must expect that there is a certain standard for knowledge that is being presented. So just as we would not accept that a plumber could become a surgeon just by reading many books without having a teacher who has understood the subject and has demonstrated his knowledge, Similarly we should not accept that spiritual knowledge can be practically understood without a teacher who is an emblem of what is to be taught. The by product of God consciousness is that of saintly behavior and satisfaction, that is, the further the attachment to the Lord is developed the further one is detached from find pleasure through temporary things. Jesus Christ has given this example. As he was being dragged to the cross and saw that the ladies were crying he said, “Cry not for me, cry for yourself and your own children.” Even Similarly Prahlad was undisturbed despite so many seemly stressful situations (i.e. like being put in a pot of boiling oil, hmm that might be a little stressful) And we also in the Krishna Consciousness movement have the benefit of Srila Prabhupada’s example of how to be Krishna Conscious at every moment. And with that benefit we also have the benefit of the great example of the devotees who follow in Srila Prabhupada’s footsteps. So as Krishna says in the 9th chapter of Gita Samoham sarva bhuteshu, I am not partial to anyone, but I do reciprocate with loving ecstasy. So we should examine, within the Krishna Consciousness movement and outside of it, are we making this advancement in consciousness. Are we, by the process that we are practicing, becoming pure at heart and satisfied? If not we must question there is a discrepancy with our practice, the process or both. Another benefit of Krishna Consciousness Movement is that the process is very scientific. The mixture of karma, religiosity for personal gain, jnana, philosophical speculative pursuits, had been separated so that we may know what is Bhakti, unalloyed service to the Lord.
The program then lead into Tulasi Puja and then the feast at 7:30. The class timing was reduced to 30 mins to make it possible to have it after the artik. The response from the all guests was great. Many guests came up to me after the class to inquire more. We had traded an hour long class for 10 people for a 30 min class for 250-300 people. By hearing the class the guests feel a great appreciation for devotees and Krishna and thus they begin to appreciate Srila Prabhupada. By the blessing of my spiritual master, who Vyasa Puja was also on that day, HH Prahladananda Swami, I was able to speak in a way that was satisfying for the devotees. After the Sunday feast we had a very nice small program for Vyasa puja at our house to honor my Guru Maharaja.
Hare Krishna
Your humble servant,
Nityananda Chandra Das

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Lord Jagannatha Appears in a Potato

A day before Dallas Ratha Yatra and everyone is in ecstatic preparation for the Lord festival. The Lord kindly gives His appearance prior to his debut Chariot festival. Pritha was peeling potatoes for tomorrows feast and while blissfully engaging in that seva she discover the smiling face of Lord Jagannatha. My hope is that He will soon also appear in my heart. Hare Krishna
Your humble servant,
Nityananda Chandra Das