Monday, November 23, 2009

The Many Faces of Krishna – A course at Texas Christian University

Last Thursday I hosted about 10 students from TCU who were taking a course by the name of  “The Many Faces of Krishna” 
Long time friend and colleague of His Holiness Tamal Krishna Goswami, Professor Andy Ford, called up several weeks ago to set up his yearly college field trip to the temple.  Professor Ford has PHD in Hinduism and this year decided to have a course entirely about Krishna.  His syllabus consists of studies of Mahabharata, Bhagavad Gita, Srimad Bhagavatam and many other Krishna related literature.  
The following is a course description form TCU’s website:
RELI 30753 - The Many Faces of Krishna
This course considers the many images of the god Krishna in the literary and religious imagination of the Indian people. After introducing some background of Hindu thought and practice, we shall look at how Krishna appears in different versions and interpretations of the great Indian epic, the Mahabharata, including the famous portion called the Bhagavad Gita. We then examine how Krishna appears in later devotional literature and poetry in the classical Sanskrit tradition, and finally Krishna in popular and regional understandings up to the present day.

The students were really nice and enjoyed the temple and the kirtan.  Over  a delicious dinner of eggplant parmesan at Kalachandji’s we discussed the glories of Sri Krishna.   One student also spoke with me about his upcoming trip to India. 
After the dinner the Professor asked if we could come to their campus and give a presentation in December.  It was perfect timing for His Holiness Prahladananda Swami, my spiritual master, will be in town that week. 
I keep you in tune. 
Hare Krishna
Your humble servant,
Nityananda Chandra Das

New Orleans Ratha Yatra 2009 – Day 3 – Trip to New Talavan


After a tasty breakfast of poha (flat rice) at the temple with the devotees we ventured to another sacred ground established by Srila Prabhupada.  Both of these temples were established by the grace of Srila Prabhupada and are maintained nicely  by the sincerity of disciples and grand disciples. 


Driving in a caravan with other devotees from Dallas, we embarked upon the beautiful land of New Talavan.   We arrived during the middle of a wonderful class given by His Holiness Bir Krishna Goswami, who was speaking about relationships and training. 


He stressed that devotees should coach others with patience and love.  He gave the example from his childhood of grades.   He said that his mother used to reward him with money for good grades and rejected him for bad grades.  He said that neither the reward nor the punishment gave any real encouragement to be diligent in his studies. 

After the class we were able to taste New Talavan Prasadam!   Curd sabjis from the milk of their own cows and yogurt dressing, all so tasty.   Salad with their own home grown lettuce and other veggies.   In fact all the deities flowers are home grown as well.   They have a special breed of cows here which are well known for their high quality milk.

After honoring prasadam I headed back in to the temple for a closer darshan of the deities of the Lord.   It was gorgeous, simply by seeing these deities your heart skips a beat.  To Gaura Nitai I begged that they help me improve my japa since Their always so kind.

IMG_2323 IMG_2324 IMG_2328 Srimati Radharani had such a cute expression, it was very beautiful. IMG_2329 IMG_2330 IMG_2332

Some the New Talavan young gopi brijbasis, Taraka and Surata Rangini,  offered to show us to some of the the cows and oxen. 


It was a pleasant and much need walk to see the ox.   I had eaten two large plates of their delicious prasadam so it was good for me to get some exercise.   When we arrived at the fence of the ox several large beautiful oxen gracefully trotted towards us.   They were very friendly and sniffed us to see if we have anything tasty upon us.   We could feel their scratchy tongues as we feed them grass.

IMG_2336 IMG_2337 IMG_2338 IMG_2339 IMG_2341 IMG_2343 IMG_2344 IMG_2345 Sitting in car ready back to Dallas we were again blessed with a another darshan of Mega Jagannatha returning back to His forest grove.


Hare Krishna

Your humble servant,
Nityananda Chandra das

here are some other photos that I did not include from the previous night.   All photos are available on my flickr page. 

IMG_2301  IMG_2304  IMG_2311 IMG_2315 IMG_2316

As I was working on yesterdays blog they took a picture of me, saying that this is “me with my 3rd wife”, Krishna Mangala’s laptop, as my laptop, my second wife as she calls it, is broken.  :)


Saturday, November 21, 2009

New Orleans Ratha Yatra 2009 – Day 2 - Driving & dancing for the Lord


We had a wonderful time at Ratha Yatra today.  We arrived at the temple in morning to the scene of the Dallas flock chowing down very delicious kitcheri.  I think about 35 of us from Dallas actually made our way down to New Orleans.   Shortly after arriving I learning that not only would I be blessed to dance for Lord Jagannatha Baladeva and Subhadra but also I would be their driver to and from the festival. 


The kirtans were great and many people who were just onlookers also came and helped pull Lord Jagannatha’s cart.  From the start of the kirtan there was rain.  But as you can see in the video the rain cleared and even the sun started shining its pleasing rays at Lord Jagannatha’s lotus feet.



Many joined in on the kirtan and danced the whole way down to the festival.

Egyptian guy


At the festival guests were blessed to hear presentations by both His Holiness Bir Krishna Goswami and His Holiness Bhakti Purushotam Swami.   I was lucky to pick a copy of Bhakti Purushottam Maharaja’s new book Sri Ksetra Parikrama


Many many devotees lead kirtan including Akincana Prabhu from Gaura Vani & As Kindreds Spirits.


Hundreds of people took photos of Lord Jagannatha and His entourage while other reached out to catch the gifts from Lord Jagannatha’s pujaris.




IMG_2285 Sri Sri Radha Radhakanta Sri Sri Gaura Nitai


At the festival I was fortunate to run into many people to speak to about Krishna.  In the evening we returned to the complimentary hotel room in the Hilton courtesy of ISKCON New Orleans.  At the hotel we were a little bored so we made grillz out of tinfoil.

Hare Krishna

Your humble servant,
Nityananda Chandra Das


Tinfoil Grillz

New Orleans Ratha Yatra 2009 - Day 1

Attracted by the Mayapurian hospitality of the New Orleans devotees, hundreds of devotees of various towns today have taken their journey to the Bayou.  Several months ago I was given an invitation to attend.   The invite was as follows, “The first 100 devotees who register will be given a free hotel room.”  However I think they have lifted that 100 family limit and now are making arrangements for whoever else may come to town. 

After a pleasant 9 hour drive to the southeast we arrived and were warmly greeted at ISKCON New Orleans.  We were able to catch the evening darshan of beautiful Sri Sri Radha Radhakanta and Gaura Nitai.   After registering and being treated to prasadam we were then treated with a large room in the Hilton Gardens hotel.  

Hare Krishna

Your humble servant,

Nityananda Chandra Das

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

TEXAS FAITH 20: How can religious leaders keep Fort Hood incident from creating fear, tension and misunderstanding?

Dallas Morning News,
Each week we will post a question to a panel of about two dozen clergy, laity and theologians, all of whom are based in Texas or are from Texas. They will chime in with their responses to the question of the week. And you, readers, will be able to respond to their answers through the comment box.

We had an excellent exchange last week about how to sustain a meaningful interfaith dialogue. But two days later, Fort Hood erupted with violence. An Army psychiatrist who was about to be deployed to Iraq took the lives of 13 people on the base and wounded 31 others.

The shooter, we've learned, is a Muslim. News reports claim he shouted "God is Great" when beginning his slayings. News reports also indicate that he felt harassed by fellow soldiers for his faith. Muslim leaders have strongly denounced his actions.

Perhaps we will learn more in the next several weeks about his real motives. But even if we learn the shootings had little or nothing to do with his faith, this event will undoubtedly create tension between American Muslims and those Americans who believe Islam is an inflammatory religion.

This is where interfaith dialogue gets hard. When religion is wrapped up in the story of such an atrocity, religious leaders need to step forward.

So, here's this week's question:

How can religious leaders -- Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and any other -- keep this incident from creating fear, tension and misunderstanding?

Read on to see what our panelists say.

NITYANANDA CHANDRA DAS, minister of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), Dallas

We can only have universal brotherhood and peace by accepting that we all have the same father. Krishna states in the Bhagavad Gita a peace formula (5.29), "One who can recognize that God is the owner of everything, everything is meant to be done for God and God is everyone's best friend such a person can be peaceful." Religious leaders who canvas followers for their own agendas, not recognizing that the same God is being worshiped in all the major religions, perpetuate strife.

It is not that all paths lead to the same goal, for if that were so it would eliminate any sense of free will. However there is only one God, and all genuine traditions state that God is attracted by love.

God is not purchased by dogma, or club affiliation, but rather genuine love and service free from personal motivations. Religious leaders must become themselves pure in heart and teach by example what it means to be devotee of God. Such a soul, free from all dogmas, and personal agendas, can see different degrees of genuine love of God in all traditions.

So religious leaders, who lead by example, eradicate spiritual ignorancewhich is the cause of all ill behavior and fear.

Hare Krishna :)
Your humble servant,
Nityananda Chandra Das
To see all the responses from the Texas Faith Panel click here

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Radha, Krishna, and Prabhupada in Barnes & Noble once again!

As I walk pass the yellow Lambhorghini and enter into the Barnes & Noble store the first thing I hear is, "Radha is dancing with Krishna...."  It was Chinmayi, a devotee who won Miss India Texas. 

She explaining the song that she performing some classical Indian dances to for our TKG Academy fundraiser bookfair.  There was a children's mrdanga presentation and kid kirtan.  A yoga demo and a Ganga movie show.  Rupa of has it all recorded so you will see it there in no time.  Hare Krishna
Your humble servant,
Nityananda Chandra Das
ps. to see last years Krishna Conscious Barnes & Noble Article see here

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

TEXAS FAITH 19: How can we have a real interfaith dialogue?

Dallas Morning News,
Each week we will post a question to a panel of about two dozen clergy, laity and theologians, all of whom are based in Texas or are from Texas. They will chime in with their responses to the question of the week. And you, readers, will be able to respond to their answers through the comment box.

We had a meeting of Texas Faith panelists last week, and the discussion was so good that some of us stayed around for an extra hour. The after-conversation that Joe Clifford, Lillian Pinkus, Amy Martin, Ric Dexter and I had led to this topic for the week:

In a world filled with too much religious tension, we often hear calls for more interfaith dialogue. Unfortunately, such discussions can lead to people suggesting that all religions are the same, which they are not. Or they can lead to one group shouting down the other. Neither is satisfactory nor gets us very far.

So, here's the question for this week:

How can we have an interfaith dialogue without it diluting the essentials of each faith and without it ending up in a Dallas Cowboys/Washington Redskins-type standoff?

Here are the responses from our Texas Faith panelists 

NITYANANDA CHANDRA DAS, minister of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), Dallas

All people are not all equal, that is myth. Bodies are different, cultures are different, characteristics based in gender, race, age, time, religion, circumstance and so on are all different.

I feel that our only common ground is that we have the same father, God, and that we all have a lost eternal loving relationship with God. For religion means to develop one's loving relationship with God.

In illusion we identify with the temporary: gender designations, political designations, national designations, sexual designations, religions designations. But all these upadis, temporary bodily designations, must be given up by one who is a sincere spiritual seeker.

We are not this body but rather we are eternal soul encased in this temporary material body. As souls we have an eternal relationship with God based on Bhakti, loving devotional service. Any dialogue that is along this line of increasing and deepening devotion is surely progressive. Religion is taught according to time place and circumstance but essential ingredient is this Bhakti.
Hare Krishna :)
Your humble servant,
Nityananda Chandra Das
To see all the responses from the Texas Faith Panel click here

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Woodrow Dance Party and AZITIZ

Woodrow High School
Woodrow High School came to the temple today for a field trip. Woodrow is a local public school about 5 minutes from Kalachandji's Some of the devotees go to the school as well.

First we gave them a very short introduction to Srila Prabhupada and the temple. Then Haridas started it off with a short bhajan. After that bhajan we taught them the Maha Mantra so that they could sing along. After everyone was singing we then had some dance lessons, Swami Step, then as the kirtan progressed we all just went wild.

Then we had a great lunch in the restaurant with questions and answers. This was followed by a photo shoot outside in front of Tamal Krishna Goswami's Samadhi
As the students got on the bus they all remarked about how much fun that they had.  One girl said, "I going to be singing that song (Hare Krishna Maha Mantra) all day long." another student wrote me this, "i liked it. it was the best part of the field trip"

After the school visit I was pleasantly surprised to see Lalita Garrett, hip hop star of AZITIZ.  She was on tour in Dallas for hip hop shows.  She lead a wonderful kirtan accompanied by Sri Rupa who originally learned mrdanga from her.  She said it was her first time playing harimonium in 4 years. 
Kalachandji Kirtan

AZITIZ - Aishman Baba