Sunday, April 26, 2009

ISKCON Member Opens Council Meeting With Sanskrit Verse

ISKCON Member Opens Council Meeting With Sanskrit Verse
By Antony Brennan on 25 Apr 2009

Nityananda Chandra Dasa is a devotee of Krishna and pujari at Sri Sri Radha Kalachandij’s in Dallas, Texas.

On Wednesday, April 8th, he represented ISKCON when he gave the morning invocation at the Dallas City Hall council meeting. The invocation is a prayer given to open the council meeting and ask for the Lord's blessings.

Previously the invocation for the Dallas council meeting had been given by Dallas temple president Nityananda Dasa and Tamal Krishna Goswami.

“I got a call from the secretary of the mayor who asked if we had a priest who could do the invocation prayer at City Hall,” says Nityananda Chandra. “She said it would be on either April 1st or 8th. I didn't think it was a jok,e but April fool's day is on the first.”

Luckily it was no joke and he would be able to bring a little Krishna consciousness to the Dallas council. He would also take the opportunity to preach an important message and to recite the Maha Mantra for all those present to hear and for the television cameras to capture.

“I spoke to our temple president and he told me that I should go and give the invocation,” Nityananda Chandra says. “He said that it is important for them to see some new young faces.” Amanda, the secretary of the mayor, contacted me by email and gave me some guidelines.”

When Nityananda arrived at the council chambers he was surprised to discover that he had met Amanda before. For a college project Amanda, like many others, had visited the temple and he had been the tour guide.

Sri Sri Radha Kalachandis hosts over 1000 students every year who come for a school project. “Amanda said that she would arrange a meeting with me and the Mayor, some time in the near future, so that I can personally invite him to the temple and gift him a Bhagavad Gita,” Nityananda says.

How did you think of what to say in an invocation? “Temple president suggested that I structure the prayer.” Nityananda Chandra says. “The first part should be a glorification, the second should be my disqualification, the third my petition, and fourth the prayed benediction.,” he says. “All this should be followed by a verse of the Bhagavad Gita”.

“I really wanted to share some key points” says Nityananda. “Such as the difference between body and soul, that God has many names, the inequality of bodily consciousness and that Krishna is our dearest friend.” Nityananda chose to use Bhagavad Gita verse 2.65. “I specifically choose this verse as it proclaims that if we get God mercy, we get refined intelligence.”

“The mayor was a nice gentleman,” Nityananda says. “We spoke briefly before the council meeting started.” and did not get to speak after because I left at the beginning of the 5 hour meeting. “Initially I wasn’t nervous, but walking from the private passage of his office to the meeting hall and coming around the corner I noticed there were four hundred of people sitting in the audience and a camera crew from each of Dallas' four different TV stations.”

The council meeting is broadcast on live TV. “Everyone seemed to be happy about it,” Nityananda says. “Afterward I sent some cake to the mayor and I plan to invite him and his family to a press free dinner at Kalachandiji’s .”


Friday, April 17, 2009

What is with the attire?

Today I was at the post office for many many hours. Dallas Ratha Yatra is happening on the following Saturday, the 25th. So I was there doing the bulk mail out invite. About 2500 beautiful postcards illustrating Lord Jagannatha, Baladeva, and Subhadra, the festival in Puri, and Dallas.

While passing through their accounting office and back to their mailing department an African American woman, who was in her earlier 50's, asked me this question, "What is with the attire?" I answered, "I am a Hare Krishna." She didn't seem to understand what I was saying so I said Hare Krishna again, but still she did not really understand. I then sang the Maha Mantra in the classic melody and then she immediately smiled and said yes. I told her that we are in East Dallas and that we have a wonderful restaurant. She asked what kind of food do we serve. I told her that we do many menus, Chinese, Italian, Mexican, Indian, and that it was all vegetarian food. With a big smile she said, "I am a vegetarian! I have been for for one year."

Wearing clothes that make others remember Krishna is a very effective way to be able to introduce Krishna Consciousnes to others. Hare Krishna
Your humble servant,
Nityananda Chandra Das

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Ramayana & Lord Chaitanya

Lord Caitanya discovered during his travels a special fact regarding the pastimes of Lord Ramachandra. That Sita that was kidnapped by Ravana was not actually Sita but rather a Maya Sita.

CC Madhya 1.117: At Rāmeśvara, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu had a chance to read the Kūrma Purāṇa, in which He discovered that the form of Sītā kidnapped by Rāvaṇa wot that of the real <a l but a mere shadow representation.


The Kūrma Purāṇa states that this shadowy Sītā was placed into a fire as a test of chastity. It was Māyā-sītā who entered the fire and the real Sītā who came out of the fire.

CC Madhya 1.118: Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was very glad to read about the false Sītā, and He remembered His meeting with Rāmadāsa Vipra, who was very sorry that mother Sītā had been kidnapped by Rāvaṇa.

CC Madhya 1.119: Indeed, Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu eagerly tore this page from the Kūrma Purāṇa, although the book was very old, and He later showed it to Rāmadāsa Vipra, whose unhappiness was mitigated.

CC Madhya 1.120: Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu also found two other books — namely, the Brahma-saḿhitā and Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta. Knowingse books to be excellent, He took them to present to His devotees.


In the olden days there were no presses, and all the important scriptures were handwritten and kept in large temples. Caitanya Mahāprabhu found the Brahma-saḿhitā and Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta
in handwritten texts, and knowing them to be very authoritative, He
took them with Him to present to His devotees. Of course, He obtained
the permission of the temple commander. Now both the Brahma-saḿhitā and Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta are available in print with commentaries by Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. Bhaktisiddhānta

This pastime is elaborated in the Madhya lila of the Caitanya Caritamrita as follows.

CC Madhya 9.200 -212: There, among the brāhmaṇas, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu listened to the Kūrma Purāṇa, wherein is mentioned the chaste woman's narration. Śrīmatī Sītādevī is the mother of the three worlds and the wife of Lord Rāmacandra. Among chaste women she is supreme, and she is the daughter of King Janaka.

When Rāvaṇa came to kidnap mother Sītā and she saw him, she took shelter of the fire-god, Agni. The fire-god covered the body of mother Sītā, and in this way she was protected from the hands of Rāvaṇa.

Upon hearing rom the Kūrma Purāṇa how Rāvaṇa had kidnapped a false form of mother Sītā, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu became very satisffied.

The fire-god, Agni, took away the real Sītā and brought her to the place of Pārvatī, goddess Durgā. An illusory form of mother Sītā was then delivered to Rāvaṇa, and in this way Rāvaṇa was cheated.

After Rāvaṇa was killed by Lord Rāmacandra, Sītādevī was brought before the fire and tested.

When the illusory Sītā was brought before the fire by Lord Rāmacandra, the fire-god made the illusory form disappear and delivered the real Sītā to Lord.

When Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu heard this story, He was very pleased, and He remembered the words of Rāmadāsa.

Indeed, when Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu heard these conclusive statements from the Kūrma Purāṇa, He felt great happiness. After asking the brāhmaṇas' permission, He took possession of the manuscript leaves of the Kūrma.

Since the Kūrma Purāṇa was very old, the manuscript was also very old. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu took possession of the original leaves in order to have direct evidence. The text was copied onto new leaves in order that the Purāṇa be replaced.

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu returned to southern Mathurā [Madurai] and delivered the original manuscript of the Kūrma Purāṇa to Rāmadāsa.

"When he was petitioned by mother Sītā, the fire-god, Agni, brought forth an illusory form of Sītā, and Rāvaṇa, who had ten heads, kidnapped the false Sītā. The original Sītā then went to the abode of the fire-god. When Lord Rāmacandra tested the body of Sītā, it was the false, illusory Sītā that entered the fire. At that time the fire-god brought the original Sītā from his abode and delivered her to Lord Rāmacandra."


These two verses are taken from the Kūrma Purāṇa.

Rāmadāsa Vipra was very pleased to receive the original leaf manuscript of the Kūrma Purāṇa, and he immediately fell down before the lotus feet of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and beto cry.

After receiving the manuscript, the brāhmaṇa, being very pleased, said, "Sir, You are Lord Rāmacandra Himself and have come in the dress of a sannyāsī to give me audience.

"My dear Sir, You have delivered me from a very unhappy condition. I request that You take Your lunch at my place. Please accept this invitation.

Here also is a nice quote from the Kūrma Purāṇa,

"deha-dehi-vibhedo 'yaḿ neśvare vidyatekvacit:"There is no difference between body and soul in the Supreme Personality of Godhead." That Srila Prabhupada notes in the Caitanya Caritamrita.

Here are some other quotes from the Kurma Purana regarding the glories of the Holy Names.

“The scriptures have amply described the various forms of prayascitta (rituals for atonement of sins). However, all of these ritualistic activities are inconsequential compared to the chanting of the holy name.
vasanti yani kotis tu pāvanāni mahītale
na tan tat-tulyam yanti kṛṣṇa-nāmānukīrtane
(Kūrma Purāṇa)

“The process of chanting the holy name has the power to eradicate all the accumulated and sinful reactions and much more, so much so that the holy name can absolve more sinful reactions than one is at all capable of committing.
nāmno 'sya yāvatḥ śaktiḥ pāpa-nirharaṇe hareḥ
tāvat kartuṁ na śaknoti pātakaṁ pātakḥ janaḥ
(Kūrma Purāṇa)

Hare Krishna
Your humble servant,
Nityananda Chandra Das