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

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, :)