Friday, September 26, 2008

birthdays times 2 times 2

It was twinfest at the Gurukula playground last Saturday! Laxmipriya and I combined birthday parties for our twins...and my best friend brought her twins, so there were three sets of twins at this party.
It was an awesome party. Laxmipriya and her older kids made pizza galore and a delicious salad. I brought my spinach curry dip, chips and soda. Everyone was well fed and had a blast at the playground.
This was the first time my best friend had come to the temple since we were 16. We have been best friends since we were 13, and even tho she is a dyed in the wool Baptist, we have been able to maintain our friendship,lol.
The party was only supposed to last about 2 hours but everyone was having such a good time that the lst straggler left at 5:pm. I especially enjoyed all the devotee association my kids got, since we live so far away, it's hard to get them together with other devotee kids.
From what I heard, we at the Dallas temple have the highest number of twins born to devotees. Could it be the water in the fountain by the prasadam room? At one point we had three sets of twins here at the same time and another set had recently moved away. The theory behind my twins is that when Laxmipriya had her twins, my husband and I went to visit them in the hospital. Her babies were in the Special Care Nursery, and my husband and I were the only visitors they had that were brave enough to hold Gandiva and Arjuna...well...our twins were born 4 days before her twins turned 1yr old!
I just want to thank everyone who made our party such a success! We all enjoyed the company of each and every one of you, and especially to Laxmipriya and her kids, because I can NEVER be as organized as she is!!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

tv time

I wish I had some devotional dvds for my kids to watch. I hate to admit that I do use the tv as a babysitter at time, but with three kids under 5, if I want to get anything done they have to be occupied by something. Don't even suggest paper and crayons, lol, they have already redecorated my living room walls with their
We watch PBS Sprout, they have safe shows for the most part, Sesame Street, Bob the Builder and a show I even like called Zooboomafoo, all about animals. My kids like Caillou and that is the show I am going to tell you about.
Caillou is about a 4yr old boy, he lives with his mom and dad and his baby sister Rosie, his grandparents are active in his life, he has multicultural friends, is helpful to elderly neighbors and although I find him irritating, my kids love him.
One day we were watching and Caillou's grandfather decided to take him fishing. My first instinct was to shut the tv off or change the channel, but my husband said, "Let's see where they are going with this" I agreed, but kept the remote in my hand. Caillou and his grampa went out on a small boat and his grandfather started reeling in the fish. Caillou was disappointed that he hadn't caught anything, but then lo and behold he hooked a small one. My kids were horrified. My 3yr old son Rama asked, "Why are they hurting the fish?" Even at his age he understood that a hook in the face cant be comfortable. My husband said, "Some people think that hurting fish is ok. We dont hurt fish" After they caught enough fish, they went home with their catch..and you know what happened next..Gramma starting cooking the poor fish. When Caillou sat down and started eating the fish, little Rama said , "Daddy!! They are EATING THE FISHIES BODY, ...yuck, that's gross!!!" My husband said, "Yes, Rama, some people think it's ok to eat other creature's bodies.They call it meat. We do not eat bodies. That is very gross" Harsh lesson for a three year old? I am not sure...he needs to know we dont eat meat, he needs to know WHY we dont eat meat. I am all for protecting my kids from the ugliness of life, but he has to learn sometime.
This made some kind of impression on Rama. He wasn't scared like I thought he would be. He actually turned into quite a little vegetarian activist!. Soon after we went to Walmart and he engaged a lady in line behind us in conversation. he told her we were going home to "make dinners" She asked him what we were having. He said, " potatoes and carrots" (his faves) She said,"What else? Are you going to have some chicken with that?" He said, "No, I don't eat bodies" The look on her face was priceless. I explained we were vegetarian and she asked the classic"Is that healthy for kids?" I asked her, "Does he look like he is malnourished?" She said, "NO" and I said, "OK, would you believe me if I told you he was premature and weighed 4 pounds at birth?" She was amazed, "I guess it is a healthy diet. That kind of gave me a new perspective hearing a little kid call meat a body, that is really gross, isn't it?" She put her rotisserie chicken back on the hot table next to us, "I think I will just go home and have a salad" Well done, Rama!
One show I want everyone with kids to check out is WonderPets. It's about 3 little animals that save other animals from all kinds of perils. They had a really awesome show where they went to India to save a Bengal Tiger. It was soooo cute, had a great lesson about how all life is important no matter how small, and they did some yoga!!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

a child's devotion

the Parker family was' in sunny Florida, just south of Tampa, while I was trying to take it easy with a broken foot. It had been pretty relaxing here, having been able to make my mom understand the vegetarian thing more,she hadn't had meat since we had been here, so Jai! Life was easy and relaxing here, but the are two things that always make us antsy to go home...we miss Kalachandji and we miss our temple family. Even tho we don't make it to temple every week, we know that it is just down the road.

My kids don't take the separation from Kalachandji very easily. Every day while in Florida we hear, "Can we go see Krishna?" It's almost as if they KNOW that we were not just 20 minutes away from our temple.It's not easy explaining to an almost three year old that the nearest ISKCON temple is 3 hours away and with gas prices the way they are it's not feasible to go. The last time we were here, I found a tiny Hindu temple that had beautiful deities if Lord Krishna, Radha, Rama, Sita and others. Their altar is open and the deities are so close you can touch them. In an attempt to quiet the kids, especially my very vocal daughter, I agreed to take them on Sunday.

Sunday afternoon was the nicest day we had this trip. It was clear and hot, perfect beach weather. I thought about not mentioning the temple to to the kids and hitting the beach, but my little daughter, Padma, spoke up at lunch and said, "Are we going to see Krishna?" I said, "Don't you want to go to the beach?" "No, I wanna see Krishna" I sighed and said, "Ok, later" Padma said, "No mamma, we have to go now before Krishna is nah nee (sleep)" GRRRR.. I told her ok...

My mom came in from her garden and asked my daughter to come pick flowers with her. Padma went out with her gramma and I could hear her little voice asking, "Can I take some flowers to Krishna?" She came back in with a huge armful of marigolds and tiny white flowers, yelling, "Mamma, look what I picked for Krishna!" Ok, I got the message, I was taking her to the temple.

We loaded up the boys into our van and I tried to take her flowers so I could buckle her in the car seat. "No mamma! I am taking the flowers to Krishna!" I tried to reason with her, (yeah, I know, she's almost three) "Let mamma hold the for you so they dont get crushed" "No mamma, I am taking then to Krishna" I didnt want to argue, it was too hot.

Padma fell asleep in the car, her tiny fist in a death grip with those buds, and I could practically see them wilting by the second. By the time we got to the temple they were limp, and I thought, she can't offer those, they are ruined. She woke up as soon as the van engine died, and was ready to go, fresh from her nap, with a bunch of dead flowers. Again, I tried to reason with her (it must have been the heat), "Padma, they are dead, you can't offer dead flowers" I tried to pry them out of her hand and she started to howl, "Nooooooo" I gave up......

We walked into the tiny temple, there were maybe 15 people there, all Indian. They gave us a friendly smile and watched as my little girl laid her dead flowers at Krishna's feet. "There!" she said, "So beautiful!" I was so afraid that we were making offence by offering obviously dead flowers , and I guess it showed on my face. The pujari smiled and pointed to a plaque on the wall, ......" He who offers Me with devotion only a leaf, or a flower, or a fruit, or even a little water, this I accept from that yearning soul, because with a pure heart it was offered with love".......... So there you wasn't the offering itself, it was the devotion in which it was offered. And I couldn't see that because I was too wrapped up in the material illusion of the flowers.
"I am the same to all beings, and My love is ever the same; but those who worship me in devotion, they are in Me and I am in them"
I walked into the tiny temple seeing dead flowers and walked out seeing Krishna in the heart of my daughter.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Amarillo Ananda

Hare Krishna so last night we had a very nice program in Amarillo Texas, a town that is only really known for the their consumption of cows. Our host Rakesh Shah and his wife and family kindly invited us from the Dallas temple to do a Janmastami program at the Hindu temple that they helped develop. Rakesh Prabhu, a radiologist whose parents became initiated disciples of HH Tamal Krishna Goswami when he was just a young boy, works with the Hindu community of Amarillo and regularly invites devotees from our temple in Dallas to come and host programs at their temple in Amarillo. We arrived Saturday at 1pm from a 1 hour flight from Dallas. Our host Rakesh, who sponored our flight kindly picked us up and took us to his beautiful house. In his house he had the beautiful deities of Sri Sri Radha Krishna and also he had very nice art of Krishna throughout the house as well.

At 5:15 we took our leave to the temple and arrived there 15 minutes later. At the temple we were very nicely received by all the guest, mostly Gujarati families of doctors and lawyers. We had a three hour time slot so we decided to break the program in a way to keep everyones attentioned fully enlivened. What we did is that we would have a bhajan for about 15 to 20 minutes lead by Haridas sporting his dad's portable Aindra harmonium (nicknamed by Aindra Prabhu himself Screaming Babies), accompanied by Kapil who is wonderful with mrdanga. This would be followed by me speaking about the pastimes of Krishna for about 15 to 20, I spoke a little from the Garga Samhita of Garga Muni which has many wonderful pastimes including the pastime of the Devas going to Vaikuntha to request the Lord's assistance. In that journey upon reaching Goloka, the door keeper, a girl by the name of ShatakaChandrana asked the Devas, "From which universe may I know that you are coming from so that I may inform the Lord of your arrival?" Confused by this statement the Devas replied, "The one and only universe," the doorkeeper laughed, but the wise Lord Vishnu of our realm who was accompanying the Devas replied, "We are coming from the universe where the eternal Prishnigarbha has descended, the universe where Lord Trivikrama has broke with the tip of his toe nail and thus the Ganga flowing in" These pastimes were intersperced with the philosophy of Lord Krishna and covered such topics such as meat eating, persons claiming to be God, and impersonalism. So after a 15 min discussion we would again return back to the bhajan and everyone in the temple sang enthusastically. Over 200 guests showed up for the program and it appeared to be a great success. We ended with a final class on the Bhagavad gita. There is a point that I have been repeating in my discussions lately this week, something that both Srila Prabhupada and Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur discuss in their purports to the Srimad Bhagavad Gita Chapter 4 verses 6-9. Krishna says that he comes to protect His devotees but later in Bhagavad Gita Krishna states mam ca yo vyabhi charena bhakti yoga sevate sa gunan samatityatan brahma bhuyaya kalpate that one who engages in devotional service, bhakti, is already saved already free from the modes of material nature. So what does it mean, paritranaya sadhunam, if by bhakti alone the sadhus are already saved. The conclusion given is that Krishna descends to appease His devotees who suffer in absence of the Lord. That is how sweet the relationship is with the Lord. This is one of the conculsions of this verse of Bhagavad gita. This verse, mam ca yo vyabhi charena also refutes the paradigm of castism because simply by engaging in service fully on becomes transcendental to the brahmana what to speak of the other classes, varnas.

This was then followed by a kirtan along with Jhulan Yatra, the swing festival, when we swing Radha and Krishna on a beautifully decorated swing. Both Haridas and myself lead this kirtan and it lasted a good 45 minutes being that their was so many people in line to partake in the swing festival. After the kirtan one gentleman approached me and asked that he had read that in the Vedas sometimes it is mentioned that there was this or that person who ate meat. My response was that neither the Vedas nor infact any traditional system of religion, such as Christianity, Muslim, or Hinduism, none of them, support the unrestricted slaughter of animals. In the Vedas, if a man wanted to eat flesh he would first sacrifice a goat in front of the deity of Kali and before killing the animal would chant, "in this life I am killing you, and in my next life you shall kill me." Also the brahmanas of the past were very powerful, sacrificing an old animal into the fire they could cause that same animal to appear out fire with a new youthful body. He seemed satisfied with the answer. Haridas and Kapil when back to the house to rest and I ended the night with dramatical Krishna story telling with all the youngins.

Our host mentioned that the turn out and response was fantastic, they all loved to hear and chant about that Most Attractive One, Sri Krishna.

Your humble servant,

Nityananda Chandra Das