Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Office in the Sky

Just finished installing our live video in our temple room. Rupa Madhurya Prabhu of was the brains and I was the brawn of the project. This is me setting up office about 30 feet up in our temple room. It took a lots of trials and errors as there are so many minute things that can go wrong. On Monday we spent about 6 hour straight but with no success. We purchased a device that transfers the internet via the powerlines. This however seemed unstable due to the distance between the office and temple room and because of the power surges caused by our heavy duty air conditioning/heating unit. Then the router that we were using was having difficulties. Rupa configured our two internet connections to run on the same system, but dedicated the second connection to only serve the camera and radio. This is our temple room schedule.

The altar is open from:

4:30 AM - 5:00 AM

7:00 AM - 11:00 AM

12: 00 PM - 12:30 PM

4:00 PM - 7:00 PM

8:00 PM - 8:45 PM

*Central Standard Time (CST)

Your humble servant,
Nityananda Chandra Das

Streaming .TV shows by Ustream

Thursday, October 23, 2008

H.H. Jayapataka Swami in Hospital

I received this very sad news last night after the Damodarastaka prayers. That His Holiness Jayapataka Swami in the hospital as a result of suffering two brain haemorrhages. Last night the devotees at the temple performed kirtan late into the night in prayer for HH Jayapataka Swami. This is a photo of Jayapataka Maharaja offering blessing to my wife. So much he has done in the service of Krishna, opening temples, transforming hearts, and compassionately distributing Krishna in the form of His Holy Name.

So I ask all of you, residents of this world, a world which has been greatly helped by this individual, to now offer your blessings and prayers.
Tonight all across the world devotees will be performing kirtan in prayer for Maharaja. Please we ask that all of you perform kirtan and offer your prayers for this gentle soul.

I remember vividly that when visiting Sridham Mayapur and Navadvipa in 2007 he would very graciously welcome my wife and I. He could be walking with hundreds of devotees and somehow or other if he saw us he would give us a warm welcome and would also welcome my wife in Spanish as well. Srila Prabhupada had stated that Maharaja is an eternal servant of Lord Caitanya so I was amazing to have an associate of the Lord welcoming us in their home, Sridham Mayapur, the eternal abode of Sri Krishna Caitanya.

HH Giriraja Swami spent the coldest night of the season praying in front of HH Tamal Krishna Goswami's Samadhi last night praying for the well being of HH Jayapataka Swami.

The following is the email that I have received this morning.
Hare Krishna
Your humble servant,
Nityananda Chandra Das


Update on the Condition of His Holiness Jayapataka Swami

For more information, and latest updates visit the, Dandavats website

The ISKCON Governing Body Commission (GBC), which is currently meeting for five days at ISKCON's Juhu Beach Temple in Mumbai, was shocked this morning at the news that His Holiness Jayapataka Swami, our dear god-brother and GBC colleague, was rushed to the hospital at approximately 4 AM Mumbai time.
Aniruddha dasa, GBC Deputy, has sent three reports about Maharaja's condition. We would like to update ISKCON devotees worldwide about Maharaja and beg for your prayers on his behalf. We ask devotees around the world to pray to Lord Krishna and Lord Nrsimhadeva for Jayapataka Swami's protection.
Maharaja was rushed to the hospital this morning in an ambulance after his assistants found him in bed around 3:30 AM unable to move and calling for help in a semi-conscious state. He was taken the Hinduja Hospital, not far from the Juhu ISKCON temple. He was unconscious when he arrived at the hospital. There several tests were conducted and it was concluded that there was no problem with his heart, as first suspected.
Maharaja's blood pressure was dangerously high, but more importantly it was determined that he had suffered two brain haemorrhages (internal bleeding). One was located in the brain stem, a very sensitive area at the base of the brain where surgery is not possible.
Several expert physicians were called in, including devotee doctors from the Bhaktivedanta Hospital in Mumbai. Specialists included neurologists and a neurosurgeon.
Jayapataka Swami is in the intensive care unit. As the hospital will not allow many visitors in the unit, GBC members Sivarama Swami, Bir Krishna Goswami, Bhakti Caru Swami, and Radhanatha Swami who had rushed to the hospital in the morning to be with Jayapataka Swami, returned to the temple around noon. Upon return, Radhanatha Swami immediately updated the GBC about Maharaja's condition.
Radhanatha Swami reported that Jayapataka Swami remains in critical condition. His condition is extremely delicate. One positive report he shared with the GBC, was that, although not apparently conscious, when Jayapataka Swami was asked to squeeze his left hand, he did so.
As surgery is not an option at this time, doctors are monitoring Maharaja's condition very carefully, and administering medication as appropriate.
Jayapataka Swami is one of ISKCON's most senior devotees. He is a dear disciple of Srila Prabhupada. He pioneered preaching in India as well as congregational outreach programs. He has been a faithful and important member of the GBC for decades.
We fervently pray to Lord Krishna for His protection. He has sacrificed his life in service, and we pray the Lord will give him full strength. We also offer our prayers and full support to the disciples of our dear god-brother in this most difficult time.
We request that devotees of ISKCON worldwide offer prayers to their Deities and to Srila Prabhupada that this great leader among us may regain his health and remain with us to serve the ISKCON mission for many more years.
We value, respect and love Jayapataka Maharaja. We admire his deep love for Prabhupada, for the ISKCON society, and for suffering humanity. May Lord Krishna be pleased to allow us all many more years of service to, and association with, His Holiness Jayapataka Swami.

Your servants,
The Members of the ISKCON
Governing Body Commission
Ramai Swami, Chairperson
ISKCON Radha Rasabihari Temple
Juhu Beach, Mumbai, India

worship and the special needs child

my 5yr old has special needs and behaviour problems...he sees a psychiatrist and counselors and is in special ed at school..he takes medication and will probably need more....he is a sweet kid and he tries, but he doesnt understand consequence.
He will run around the temple and will not sit still....ok, let me rephrase that..he CANNOT sit still... I know that he ruins my peaceful meditative mood when I am in the temple, and I cant imagine how he makes those who dont love him feel.
I have taken to using temple time as a threat to him...and I am feeling really bad about it.. I tell him if he doesnt behave, he cant go see Krishna...I have left him home with Dad several times while I bring the twins to Damodara prayers..and I have felt guilty every time..on one hand, who am I to deny him darshana with Krishna? On the other hand who am I to force everyone else to take darshan of Jayadeva? The thing is, we dont know if Jayadeva will ever be able to function in a place where restraint and self control is a am I as his parent supposed to just bring him, and deal with it or leave him at home and deal with it? I refuse to just let him run amok in the temple....
If anyone has feed back on this I would greatly appreciate it

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Japa Workshop Day 2

Today was another wonderful day for the Japa Weekend. As Mahatma Prabhu instructed, Japa Weekend does not just mean the 10am - 6 pm time period that you are at the seminar/workshop, no it is actually the whole weekend that you must commit to so that you can get full benefit.
By the blessings of Krishna's devotees I was able to wake up before my alarm clock at 4am which is quite rare. Namely both waking up before the clock, and me setting the clock at four. The night before I finished writing the previous small blog at 11:15pm. I usually get to bed around this time or later due to baby Visakha restlessness. So needless to say setting the clock for that time was a little intimidating. But by grace of all of the devotees somehow or other I woke up refreshed around 3:45. I was able to make it to the temple at 4:30 just in time for the mangala artik which was nicely sung by Mahatma Prabhu. We then sang and meditated upon Tulasi devi, Krishna's dear devotee, offered our obeisances to the devotees and on to chanting. Chanting was more focused then usual, attempting to keep in mind that it is not a process it is a relationship. Our chanting should not be like the proposal of an unwilling groom in an arranged marriage but rather a loving appeal reestablish a lost relationship.
Today workshop was great, many different exercises helped us with internal and external issues in chanting, helping us with the tools to progress. If one wants some results, good japa, one must then step out of their comfort zone and not just do the same habit. Even physical actions, which was touched on briefly, such as not letting the eyes wander, keeping one's back erect, reading mantra, was shone to have great impact on our mind. Thus allowing ourselves to hear the Holy Names with less clutter.
His Holiness Giriraja Swami led us in a discussion on appreciating the holy name as Mahatma Prabhu helped us chant with intention. So much can be said, but it is pass 11pm again, lets see if can again get your blessings to be up my 3:45am .
Hare Krishna
Your humble servant,
Nityananda Chandra Das

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Japa Workshop Day One.

I have just had the privilege to attend day one of the japa workshop here in Dallas and it is wonderful. There is so much could be said but I would just like to focus on one element, the mood. Upon arriving at the program it was immediately noticeable the loving mood that was present amongst the devotees. Mahatma Prabhu and others very intelligently arranged everything that somehow it produced a very loving mood amongst the devotees. The day earlier I had the fortune to meet some of the organizers, Madri Dasi from Minneapolis and Karnamrita's wonderful wife Mother Archana Siddhi. Madri worked diligently to make sure everything went smoothly, and she duly engaged me in service of helping with the transportation and set up.
The elements that Mahatma Prabhu introduced that he stated were essential for getting full advantage of the seminar I found to be in the Upadeshamrita, or Nectar of Instruction. In the fourth verse Srila Rupa Goswami speaks about 6 essential items to develop loving relationships between Krishna's devotees. Dadati, offering gifts. Prati Grihnati, accepting gifts. Ghuhyam akyati prichati revealing ones mind in confidence. Prichati, and inquiring confidentially. Bhunkte Bhojayate Caiva, offering prasadam, and accept prasadam Sad vidam priti laksanam, are the six ways that enhance our loving exchanges between devotees.
So the program started with wonderful prasadam which was lovingly cooked by Mother Sucharya. This was distributed in a very loving fashion, with senior and junior members voluntarily, and spontaneously serving others with second helpings. I was too ignorant to take my opportunity to make advancement by joining in this personal service, maybe I will go for it next time. In groups of two we revealed our minds in confidence and inquired confidentially, we must not be afraid to give up our image and just be humble and just present ourselves in our actual state of consciousness. This is honesty is more attractive then false vigor. Then Mahatma Prabhu at the end of the wonderful session, in preparing of the next day, had us all pray for each other so that we may achieve this goal of chanting with loving attention. He told the story how Srila Prabhupada was sitting once with his disciple Shivananda and turned to him saying, "Please pray for me" Shivananda said, "but who am?" "You are Krishna's devotee and thus He will most certainly hear your prayers." And at last Mahatma Prabhu asked us to share one more gift before we leave. He said that touching the body of the devotee is the perfection of touch according to the Sastra. So must give five gifts before we leave. We must hug five devotees. He had the ladies find five ladies or more and hug each other and the same for the men. I am sure no one just gave only five hugs because everyone was so satisfied and happily in a loving mood. I also got to hug His Holiness Giriraja Swami and Mahatma Prabhu. Jaya! Krishna devotees Ki Jaya!! Japa Workshop Ki Jaya! Gaura Premanande !! Hari Haribol.
Your humble servant,
Nityananda Chandra Das

Ps. Our homework for tomorrow is to chant the best rounds that we ever have chanted in our entire lives, so please pray for me, please
That I may develop my loove for the Holy Name

Sunday, October 5, 2008

SMU Bhakti Yoga Club Update by Ratna

Here is a little update on one of the services that I am involved in right now--the Bhakti Yoga Club at SMU.

A.: a hot-tempered, liberal, undergraduate student who had been attending the sessions for the past five weeks or more. Last night it was A.'s birthday. After the regular Bhakti Yoga session of japa, kirtana and short discussion, we planned to bring out the cake and have a little celebration for him. A. was torn whether to stay for our session or go out with his friends who invited him for "lobster" dinner (eewwww!) He kept getting pestering phone calls from his friends. As we asked him to stay at least 5-10 more minutes, he agreed. At one point, he went in the hallway and yelled on the phone, "Stop pestering me. It's rude to leave. I told you already.... Just leave me alone! (with swear words in between of course)." He canceled his lobster dinner, stayed with us the whole evening and ended up bringing some of his friends there to have cake. He told us that it was the best birthday celebration he ever had.

Last night, some students stayed even after the program was over. Bhadra Prabhu somehow got five students to participate in spontaneous kirtana. Next thing I knew there was an ecstatic kirtana and the five students were dancing, arms raised, with huge smiles on their faces. It was contagious and everyone in the room began dancing. Here we were in a posh, SMU meeting room dancing up and down in ecstasy. No one could really explain how or why it happened, but everyone was laughing as if intoxicated. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu ki jaya!

B.: in her late forties, works for a recycling company, into meditation, yoga, mode-of-goodness. She told me after her first experience of Bhakti Yoga that she never felt so good as after that session. She went through a difficult phase in her life which sent her searching for higher meaning. Christianity didn't satisfy her questions. She tried different kinds of yoga also, but nothing satisfied her. "I have never felt so fulfilled as I do now," she told me. She has been coming for the last 5 sessions. Here is an e-mail she wrote to me recently: "Hey Ratna! I am looking forward to tomorrow night. I have not had a chance to fetch up a set of beads of my own, but you know, I may be able to do that today. I have however been chanting in my mind frequently, and it is fine. I am so happy to have found you, or rather, that you all found me!"

Every week, for the three hours in front of the student center, we pass out flyers advertising our club. Someone passes out the flyers and I usually do the kirtana. People are so attracted to the music and interesting instruments. Two older ladies (maybe faculty members) stopped yesterday and kept telling me how beautiful it sounded. They stood there a long time just listening to the maha-mantra and trying to sing along.

C.: a graduate student who just joined SMU from China, one of the first members of the club this semester. She not only attended the first session, but she also joined us the next day for the flyer distribution, even though she doesn't speak English very well. She still comes and even though she is not really into the philosophical part of the program (and is a little skeptical), she just loves the family we have created for her. She doesn't have a car, so sometimes we drive her places. She helps with the setup for the programs and the "break down" at the end. I introduce her to others as one of the "oldest" members of the club and she is proud of it. Not an ordinary soul!

There are many more stories....but I will stop there. It is wonderful to see Krishna orchestrating everything. He is sending inquisitive souls and making all the arrangements. We just have to be willing instruments and ready to serve the sankirtana movement in whatever capacity we can. I hope these stories are of some inspiration.

Your servant, Ratna Radhika dasi