December 28 2008

Here’s a wonderful story from Sriman Nanda Kishore prabhu to add to my post on December 3 2008 about miracles:

“On 18th March, 2008, Sri Maheshbhai Dhokia, congregation member from London called me and told me that His wife, Srimati Jayshree Dhokia is suffering from acute uterine cancer and she is being flown to Frankfurt for the last time. Maheshbhai asked me if the devotees in Mayapur could do some prayers for his wife. Doctors in London had given up the hope and claimed that she may not last more then 3 months as the cancer had spread to most parts of lower body that is abdominal and pelvic area.

The following morning, I humbly requested HG Pankajanghri prabhu and explained him the whole situation. We were both in the pujari room near Radha Madhava altar. I was dressing Mahaprabhu at that time of the year and HG Pankajanghri prabhu was making his final preparations for all the abhisekha of Lord Nrisimadeva.

Nrsimhadeva puja Mayapur

HG Pankajanghri prabhu asked what is the name of the mataji. I just gave the name written on a piece of paper.

In Germany, it was just during the same time the operation was going on to save Srimati Jayshree mataji. After she gained her consciousness she told her husband that she dreamt of lord Nrisimhadev of Mayapur. Bhakta Pralad Maharaja was there  to tell her the glories of Lord Nrisimhadev.

Prahlada

She also told her husband that she completely feels like a new person and something evil has left her body.

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December 23 2008

Here’s the second of five questions Sriman Krsna Mitra dasa sent me in October:

Question:

“Krsna says in Bhagavad-Gita 5.29, “I am the proprietor and I am the supreme enjoyer”, so how can I preach this point to normal peoples?”

Answer:

Ownership means control. If someone actually owns something, they consequently have control of it. And if you have control of something, you have the right and ability to enjoy it.

However, it’s not difficult to understand that none of us minute living beings own anything. We have nothing that we can call our own possessions. Even our bodies, what to speak about anything associated with them, do not belong to us. At any moment they can be taken away.

On a visit to New Mayapur in France on August 2 1976 Srila Prabhupada spoke to the assembled students of our gurukula there.

August 2 1976 meeting with Gurukula

He explained that the root cause of all our difficulties lay in our false desire to want to become masters of all we survey:

[TD 3] “Quoting from Bhagavad-gita 18.66 he said devotional service begins with surrender. But he said the material disease is that everyone wants to become master; nobody wants to become a servant. Therefore there is a struggle for existence.

He said the history of Europe is one of war — one leader after another trying to become the master. “The “mastership competition” is going on life after life and in different species of life, but it is a false ambition.

Napoleon ‘Dubya’ the Great

whoops! Sorry, wrong dictator…

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December 17 2008

Here’s an interesting (to put it mildly) follow up on my posting about recognising strokes and taking early action.

This one is from Sriman Jayatirtha Caran prabhu (JTC) in NZ. He’s an expert purohit (priest) and runs the website http://www.salagram.net/Sri-Shaligram-Tirtha.htm

This is JTC conducting the pujas for the opening of the new Sri Sri Radha Giridhari temple, Bhakti Bhavan, in Auckland January 2004. As you can see, he’s a man of substance:

Auckland temple opening - Chakra installation

From JTC:

pamho., agtsp., agtsg&g.,

Thought you might like this after reading your thing on strokes, and yeah I did all those tests that you said.

About ago (Friday)(three weeks now) I was doing the Salagram puja and pondered over how it would be nice if we could relieve Jayapataka swami of his stroke effects and restore him to good health much the same way as Vasudev Datta took the suffering of the people, obviouly a nice sentiment but way too much for an aspiring devotee like me rather than Vasudev Datta.

That day I had a cardiologist appointment at Tauranga hospital, and he was really pleased at my progress since the heart attack in March. The ECG was good, blood pressure was 136 over 85, kidney function was good, they did a diabetes check at the hospital also it was 7.9 which they said was good too. Now they are booking an appointment in a TIA clinic and CT scan later in the week to see if there is some blockage in the neck arteries which they say they may be able to fix in that be the case. Meantime I’d still been drinking Fenugreek tea morning noon and night hoping it will help clean the cobwebs out……

Then on the Monday I was out in the Lord’s garden trimming the edges with the whipper snipper and my wife called me and I went to answer and the words were muddled in my head to reply, and I struggled like anything to finally slur the words out, and she noticed a full right side facial droop. We called an ambulance and off I went to hospital where I was admitted for tests.

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Dead Poets
15 December 2008

December 15 2008

I am not much of a poetry aficionado. I rarely write it, and seldom read it. But poetry is a powerful medium of expression and can move one’s emotions and spark one’s imagination like few other mediums.

Srila Prabhupada read and wrote poetry and at school he was exposed to British literature and its exponents. One of the great poets he sometimes quoted was William Cowper (pronounced Cooper – 1731-1800):

William Cowper 1731-1800

Cowper was well known for his love of the Divine through nature:

Jnana das: Srila Prabhupada, in Kenya the great majority of people live in the country rather than the towns.
Prabhupada: That’s nice. “Country is made of God, and city is made by man.” That is the remark by poet Cowper.”

Of course, Srila Prabhupad’s realizations went deeper and broader:

Hyderabad farm

Paramahamsa: Life becomes so artificial. In the big city, people don’t see that they depend on God.
Prabhupada: No, no. City or country, that I don’t say that Mr. Cowper is perfect in his statement. City is also created by God. City is also created by God. God has given you the ingredients, He has given you the intelligence, and you create. Eh? Wherefrom you get the intelligence? Eh? Who will answer this? Wherefrom the man gets his intelligence?”

Nevertheless he appreciated Cowper and men like him for their insights into human life and the natural arrangements provided by Krsna for real human development:

“Actually, I have no desire to start the school in any city. City life, especially in this age of kali yuga, is very much polluted. Poet Cowper stated that the city is made by man and the village is made by God. So in the village there is a natural tendency for Krishna Consciousness, so we want to develop such atmosphere in New Vrindaban. “–Letter to: Satyabhama  –  Los Angeles 27 December, 1968 

Cowper, the son of the chaplain of King George II, expressed his god consciousness through verse, to great effect. As Cowper noted about his own ability to write verse and its effect on others:

… I, who scribble rhyme
To catch the triflers of the time,
And tell them truths divine and clear
Which, couched in prose, they would not hear.

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December 14 2008

Srimati Tulasi devi

A few months back I got a question from Samatma Gour das in the CIS about Srimati Tulasi devi that I couldn’t answer:

“I heard recently that Tulasi should not be worshiped on dwadashi (take off leaves, touch etc).

tulasi leaves

I do not trust any “new” information (that appeared after passing away of Shrila Prabhupada) reg. the process of devotional service. So I decided to ask you. Is there any authoritative information about this and what did Shrila Prabhupada say about this?”

At the time I answered non-committally:

“Sorry prabhu, I don’t know anything about this topic. I never heard this before, that Tulasi cannot be touched or leaves picked on dvadasi. Maybe there is some shastric injunction but if there isn’t I wouldn’t give much credence to it unless someone can show some authoritative source to back it up.”

I recently put out the question on the Prabhupada Disciples conference on Pamho.net  and got this excellent answer from Sriman Gaura Kesava prabhu, an old friend and fellow disciple of Srila Prabhupada from Australia and an expert on various forms of Deity worship and pujas:

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Strokes — S T R
8 December 2008

December 8 2008

Just got this in my emails. In the light of HH Jayapataka Swami’s current predicament it would seem very pertinent:

Please have a look….This 5 min may save a life and lots of tears…..

You could save a life.

stroke help

STROKE: Remember The 1st Three Letters… S.T.R ..
My friend sent this to me and encouraged me to post it and spread the word.
I agree. If everyone can remember something this simple, we could save some
folks.

STROKE IDENTIFICATION:
During a party, a friend Ingrid stumbled and took a little fall – she assured everyone that she was fine and just tripped over a brick because of her new shoes. (they offered to call ambulance)

They got her cleaned up and got her a new plate of food – while she appeared a bit shaken up, Ingrid went about enjoying herself the rest of the evening. Ingrid’s husband called later telling everyone that his wife had been taken o the hospital – (at 6:00pm, Ingrid passed away..) She had suffered a troke at the party. Had they known how to identify the signs of a stroke, erhaps Ingrid would be with us today.

Some don’t die. They end up in a helpless, hopeless condition instead. It only takes a minute to read this…

STROKE IDENTIFICATION:

A neurologist says that if he can get to a stroke victim within 3 hours he can totally reverse the effects of a stroke…totally. He said the trick was getting a stroke recognized, diagnosed, and then getting the patient medically cared for within 3 hours, which is tough.

RECOGNIZING A STROKE

Remember the ‘3’ steps, STR. Read and Learn!
Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster.
The stroke victim may suffer severe brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke.
Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions:

S * Ask the individual to SMILE ..

T * = TALK. Ask the person to SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE (Coherently) (eg ‘It is sunny out today’).

R * Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS .

If he or she has trouble with ANY ONE of these tasks, call the ambulance and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.

NOTE : Another ‘sign’ of a stroke is:

1. Ask the person to ‘stick’ out their tongue.

2. If the tongue is ‘crooked’, if it goes to one side or the other that is also an indication of a stroke.

A prominent cardiologist says if everyone who gets this e-mail sends it to 10 people; you can bet that at least one life will be saved.

and it could be your own..

PLEASE….. PASS THIS ON



Q&A: Miracles
3 December 2008

December 3 2008

miracles

Here’s an interesting question from Acyuta Krsna das in Perm, Russia:

perm_in_russia.jpg

 “Why during the last epoch there were various miracles which were made by the Lord and His devoted, sacred persons, and now – today there are no miracles? Why today we do not see miracles? Why now it is not observed at all any phenomena connected with acts of demigods . . . Earlier there were obvious proofs, which many could observe, and now all is reduced only to religious writings. Differently now it is necessary to take on all belief .”

Answer:
 First of all we should understand what ‘miracle’ means. Here is the dictionary meaning:

 ”miracle — an event that is contrary to the established laws of nature and attributed to a supernatural cause.”
 ”any amazing or wonderful event”

 I think most people will describe a miracle similarly.

 It is not a fact that such things are not going on nowadays. But in modern times most people are atheists or skeptics and will not accept such events even if they see it with their own eyes. Take the events at Fatima, Portugal for instance:

In 1916 three shepherd children reported seeing an apparition of the Virgin Mary.

 fatima-small.jpg

She told them she would visit them again on specific dates, and give information about the future. The news became widespread. By the time of the third visit, on October 13, 1917, 70,000 persons had gathered to see the event. They were spread over several square miles of countryside.

Fatima crowd

An eyewitness account was written by Dr. José Maria de Almeida Garrett, a professor at the Faculty of Sciences of Coimbra, Portugal:
“It must have been 1:30 p.m when there arose, at the exact spot where the children were, a column of smoke, thin, fine and bluish, which extended up to perhaps two meters above their heads, and evaporated at that height. This phenomenon, perfectly visible to the naked eye, lasted for a few seconds. Not having noted how long it had lasted, I cannot say whether it was more or less than a minute. The smoke dissipated abruptly, and after some time, it came back to occur a second time, then a third time

“The sky, which had been overcast all day, suddenly cleared; the rain stopped and it looked as if the sun were about to fill with light the countryside that the wintery morning had made so gloomy. I was looking at the spot of the apparitions in a serene, if cold, expectation of something happening and with diminishing curiosity because a long time had passed without anything to excite my attention. The sun, a few moments before, had broken through the thick layer of clouds which hid it and now shone clearly and intensely.

 ”Suddenly I heard the uproar of thousands of voices, and I saw the whole multitude spread out in that vast space at my feet…turn their backs to that spot where, until then, all their expectations had been focused, and look at the sun on the other side. I turned around, too, toward the point commanding their gaze and I could see the sun, like a very clear disc, with its sharp edge, which gleamed without hurting the sight. It could not be confused with the sun seen through a fog (there was no fog at that moment), for it was neither veiled nor dim. At Fatima, it kept its light and heat, and stood out clearly in the sky, with a sharp edge, like a large gaming table. The most astonishing thing was to be able to stare at the solar disc for a long time, brilliant with light and heat, without hurting the eyes or damaging the retina. [During this time], the sun’s disc did not remain immobile, it had a giddy motion, [but] not like the twinkling of a star in all its brilliance for it spun round upon itself in a mad whirl.

fatima sun

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November 21 2008

Rasarani-priya self portrait November 2008

You expect to have to deal with health issues as you get older, but when they hit you when you are young, its a little more trying. I haven’t been blogging the last few days because my daughter Rasarani-priya has been rather sick and with her mother in Vrndavana, its been a bit of a trial.

She is no stranger to our constant companion, vyadhi. Since the age of three she has had pneumonia six times, and almost every year has serious breathing problems. But this time the symptoms were a little different.

She seemed alright when she returned from Indradyumna Maharaja’s kartika parikrama to Vrndavana, Jaipur and Hrishikesh last month.

train to Hrishikesh

Hrishikesh

girls in Hrishikesh

Ganga snana with Kamalakshi

Then a week ago she came back from the first winter procession of the Mayapur Deities with 101 deg. fever. I thought it was a 48 hrs. flu and she spent a couple of days in bed. But swelling behind and below her ears, a cracking headache and very sore throat all showed she had in fact contracted mumps.

Nothing to be done as far as treating a virus goes. All you can do is give some paracetamol to keep the fever down a bit and let the body fight it out. Once having been, it never comes again.

Unfortunately after three days her temperature suddenly shot up from 99 to 103, then 104 and then 105. We called the doc. and he prescribed some antibiotics. Not stuff we particularly like, but when its needed, its effective. We also had a blood test done and there results came back the same day. The big T, as in typhoid. I was glad we got the doctor in. I had typhoid once and its no fun. The doctor advised keeping the same treatment but for a longer period.

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Laksmipriya
18 November 2008

November 18 2008

For those who haven’t seen it yet, there is a nice video of Laksmipriya, our Mayapur elephant, on YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8wwCM89m0k

And here’s a few photos from Hrimati mataji, our defacto elephant expert.

Hrimati with LP

LP loves the hose

LP

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Q&As: Dr. Patel
14 November 2008

November 14 2008

This one’s from Bhaktin Natalya in the CIS: 

 ”In the Transcendental Diary you told about Shrila Prabhupada meetings with Dr. Patel in Bombay.

 Srila Prabhupada and Dr. Patel on Juhu beach

He received so much association with Shrila Prabhupada. Did he become a devotee? Did he write a manual book on Sanskrit as Shrila Prabhupada advised?”

Answer:
 Dr. Patel did indeed become a devotee, at least in spirit. I don’t think he ever chanted any rounds, but he was certainly following the 4 regs. and he accept Srila Prabhupada as his siksa guru:

[TD 1] December 20 1975 – Bombay

As we walked back to greet Sri Sri Radha-Rasabihari, the sound of children’s voices singing traditional Hindi songs loudly rang out from the playground of the junior school across the road. This scene reinforced the point that Srila Prabhupada emphasized during the morning walk — everyone must learn from another qualified authority.
Dr. Patel said, “Guru is necessity right from the birth. The first guru is the mother.”
Prabhupada answered, “And these rascals, they preach like that: ‘There is no need of guru.'”
“They are rascals, Sir.”
“Yes,” Prabhupada agreed. “Simply rascals. Rascal means he does not know the thing and he still preaches. That’s a rascal. Guru must be there. There are many, they say like that, ‘There is no need of guru.'”
When one visitor asked if some effort was required to obtain a guru, Prabhupada gave his confirmation. “Yes. Therefore Krsna says,
tad viddhi pranipatena. Pranipat means you have to surrender. When you submit somewhere, you must test and then submit. That is sad-guru.
“They say, sir,” Dr. Patel said, “that if you are very sincere then the
sad-guru comes automatically to you … as you have come to us.”
Prabhupada answered, “Yes. Because Krsna is there. If He sees somebody is actually serious to understand Him…. Therefore Dhruva Maharaja, he did not make any guru, but with fervent desire he went, ‘Yes, I shall find out Krsna.’ Mother said, ‘Krsna can be found in the forest.’ He went to the forest and began according to his own way. Then Krsna sent Narada Muni: ‘This boy is very serious; go and give him real mantra.’ That is Caitanya Mahaprabhu,
guru krsna krpaya paya bhakti lata bija. Two things required, guru and Krsna.”

The incident about the sanskrit grammar book occured on April 14 1976 on Prabhupada’s daily walk along Juhu beach:

[TD 1] Regarding Dr. Patel’s suggestion for learning Sanskrit, Prabhupada concluded that if a student is serious he can learn simply from reading his books, because in them he has given the word meanings. After studying a few sentences one can understand the verb, the subject, object, and so forth. Prabhupada told Dr. Patel that if he would have had more time he would have made a Sanskrit grammar based on Bhagavad-gita, but now he is too busy. He suggested Dr. Patel do it, since he knows both Sanskrit and English. “You can do that. People will read it, Bhagavad-gita grammar. On the Bhagavad-gita teach them grammar. Just like Jiva Gosvami compiled Hari-namamrta-vyakarana, similarly, you write. You have the knowledge of Sanskrit, and through English, [teach it using] Bhagavad-gita grammar. People will take it.”
 

As far as I know Dr. Patel never did it, but I am informed that there is now a book of Sanskrit grammar based on the Bhagavad-gita written by one of our ISKCON devotees (my apologies for not knowing who that is).




November 13 2008

 resize-of-img_3759.JPG

Today is the full moon night on which Lord Krishna holds His rasa dance with His dearest devotees, the gopis of Vrindavan.

 Rasa dance

rasa dance1

Rasa-purnima is a big festival in Bengal. At Mayapur Chandrodaya Mandir we get at least 100,000 visitors throughout the day. They come to see Sri Sri Radha Madhava and the astasakhis,

Radha Madhava and asta-sakhis

chant in the packed temple rooms,

chanting crowd 

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Q&As: women sannyasis
12 November 2008

November 12 2008

We sometimes hear outlandish stories attributed to Srila Prabhupada. Here’s a curious question I received some months ago from Laksmana Prana dasa:

“I heard one story that may have serious conclusions, and therefore I would like to ask your either to confirm or to refute.

One mataji who preached a lot begged Shrila Prabhapada to give her sannyasa, referring to Jahnava Ma. Prabhupada gave her sannyasa and in one month that mataji left the movement forever and got married to a karmi.”

Answer

 I never heard this before. As far as I know Srila Prabhupada never gave sannyasa to a woman. It would have been completely contradictory to everything he ever said on the topic. I think this is a completely bogus story.

In 1976 requests for sannyasa were becoming frequent. Indeed, Srila Prabhupada gave sannyasa to seven men at the Gaura Purnima festival:

7 new sannyasis

But he never gave sannyasa to a woman even though he was asked:

[TD Vol 1] February 4, 1976 – Mayapur

The acceptance of sannyasa has become so popular recently that even some of the ladies are asking about it. Aditya dasi sent an enquiry from Bombay. “I am writing this letter on behalf of myself, as well as the other women in our Society. Sometimes the question has come up, but no one seems to know the real answer, about sannyasinis. I know that sannyasa is the highest order of spiritual life, therefore is it not possible that we can be eligible? Myself, I do not feel like a woman, although I am in this body.”

Prabhupada’s reply was concise and clear. Quoting from Bhagavad-gita, he told her the soul is neither man nor woman, and for those engaged in Krsna’s service, there is no distinction between man and woman. “Anyone acting for Krsna, he is a sannyas or sannyasini. Spiritually everyone is equal. But materially a woman cannot be given sannyasa. But you should not be bothered because you are serving on the spiritual platform.”



Jayapataka Swami
10 November 2008

November 10 2008

Some very good news for the last two days, that Jayapataka Swami has become fully conscious. He is able to recognize his visitors, and even communicate with them despite not being able to talk yet. But he can move his head around and has limited movement in all his limbs which indicates there is no paralysis.

Things are looking a little hopeful for the first time for three weeks. May Lord Caitanya and Srila Prabhupada grant this wonderful servant of His a full restoration of his health so that he may continue to serve Him for many years yet.

One of the nice things during offering of lamps in the temple room is to be able to offer one’s lamp to Jayapataka Maharaja.

JPS photo

We hope it will not be too long before we see Jayapataka Maharaja back here in Mayapur.



Kartika vrata
10 November 2008

November 10 2008

Mother Yasoda and baby Damodara

kartika offerings

Its getting near the end of Kartika vrata and the Damodar prayers. This is always the best month of the year. I used to like observing it in Vrndavana. When we first opened the Krsna Balaram mandira in 1975 I had the pleasure of observing the first Kartika for the temple as the temple commander. And right after that I became Srila Prabhupada’s personal servant. In those days we didn’t really know much about observing the festivals and not so many people were coming. Now you can’t move, the temple is so packed up. So my allegiance has shifted to Mayapur.

Mayapur is also packed up but not to the degree Vrndavana is.

resize-of-img_3741.JPG

And the Bengali kirtaneers have a different style of singing the Damodara prayers which is very sweet. 

kirtaneers

In 1976 also I was in Vrndavana with Srila Prabhupada.

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November 9 2008

Today was Ekadasi. I was really happy. My doc. gave me a concession that on ekadasi I could eat potato. So I took full advantage.

Here we are, my favorite food

 resize-of-img_3736.JPG

Cooked in ghee till golden brown

golden browns

What a sight! What delight! What a bite! Sprinkle with salt, pepper and a little fresh lemon juice. Unbeatable.

I could never figure out why they are called french fries though. It seems to be the Americans that prefer that name even if the French aren’t particularly known for them. Nor do the French even call them French fries.

They are of course, chips. The Brits are well known for chips. As a young man growing up in England, there’s no way you could avoid them. I even had a friend whose parents used to own and run the local fish and chip shop

If there is such a thing as a national food in England, its fish and chips (although nowadays thats been replaced by curry and chips-haribol for the Indian influence!) So why aren’t they called Brit chips? Or if they want to keep some French connection, in Australia they should be known as pom de terres?

At any rate, they taste irresitably good. So I had a plate; actually more than one. Well, anyway, the doc. said…




November 6 2008

So much for diets. Now here’s the other half of my get healthy program

exercise

Nice, huh. Its been sitting in my living room for the last six days, a sight to inspire me to do something I haven’t cared for before – exercise. I haven’t actually used it yet, but it looks good. For Rs. 8,700 it should. And what to speak if I begin to use it!

Now, one might ask, why bother spending so much on a bike that doesn’t go anywhere? Surely it would be more healthy and wise to just get out on a real bike, buzz around Mayapur and stay healthy that way.

Well here are a few good reasons. Some keen wit observed the state of the Indian traffic about 25 years ago and wrote the Indian Road Rules

START: Traveling in India is an almost hallucinatory potion of sound, spectacle and experience. It is frequently heart-rending, sometimes hilarious, mostly exhilarating, always unforgettable – and, when you are on the roads, extremely dangerous. Most Indian road users observe a version of the Highway Code based on an ancient text. These are the rules of the Indian road:

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November 6 2008

 prasadam

After all the talk about die-ating, you can be forgiven for thinking today’s header is about my recent attempts to improve my health through diet. That’s a quote from Srila Prabhupada though.

Prabhupada ate carefully,

sp prasadam 

 and whenever he suffered some ill health he responded by adjusting his diet. He had been a medical man in his grhastha days, and he knew the beneficial effects of eating well. But if it came to enforced dieting, his mood was a lot different.

Here’s a couple of snitchs from TD Volume 6 (unpublished) that show his mood towards doctors and their prescribed diets:

December 26 1976 – Bombay

In mid-morning, Srila Prabhupada met with an ayurvedic kaviraja, Mr. Chakrobarty. After a short discussion Srila Prabhupada agreed to go with him to his clinic. Accompanied by myself, he set off by car to the man’s home and then his clinic. It was a long drive to the other side of Bombay.

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November 3 2008

While I was in Mumbai two weeks ago I visited the Bhaktivedanta Hospital at Mira Road, for a full checkup.

BH 

 I haven’t had one for a couple of years, and with a number of Godbrothers and sisters facing various health crisises this year, it seemed prudent to have a look and see what was going on in the innards of this animated carcass.

The BH is more like a temple than a hospital, it is so clean and well ordered. You walk in the door and there is a murti of Srila Prabhupada right in the middle of the ground floor.

resize-of-cimg2068.JPG 

Devotees tour the floors with a portable altar of Lord Jagannatha so that the patients can offer flowers and prayers to the Lord. Devotional music and lectures are piped into every room in the building and all the food served is prasadam. These are popular features despite the fact that about 60% of the patients are Muslim or Christian. The hospital has a great reputation and is now having to expand its facilities to cope with the demand.

portable altar

They also run a free meal for schools program, serving over 40,000 plates of prasadam a day to Mumbai’s school kids.

Along with first class medical care the devotees also maintain an all-important Spiritual Care dept. so any devotees going in get very well cared for in all respects.

As for me, all in all things are not so bad, a little hypoglycemia, a little extra bad cholesterol, and a bit of osteoarthritis setting in.

Could be worse, and the doc’s advice was that it can all be controlled by diet and exercise.  So this a confirmation of my own diagnosis that I am now going to have to do the two things I have avoided most of my life.

Srila Prabhupada didn’t like enforced diets either, but more about that in a moment.

 The BH has a good ayur-vedic doctor in residence, Nirmal Candra prabhu, and I was fortunate he was on duty when I visited. After hearing my symptoms he analysed me as a pitta constitution. Pitta is particularly centered in the pancreas and an excess of it is what is causing my hypoglycemia (too much production of insulin, which causes the blood sugar level to drop too far down resulting in fainting among other things). Pitta of course is fire. That’s me, too much fire in the body.

 [TD5] November 3, 1976 – Vrndavana

As Prabhupada was walking back into the house from the garden after his noon massage today, he suddenly reached out and took hold of my hand. He shook his head and said with a sympathetic smile, “Too hot!” and then went in to bathe. This is the second time he has done this. It’s obvious that he doesn’t feel that it’s a good thing, but I am not sure what he means by it–I don’t know if he means it affects him adversely or me adversely–and there seems little I can do about my bodily constitution. I am unfortunately largely in the mode of passion, and I guess that my body being overheated must be a symptom of that. But since Prabhupada hasn’t given me any advice how to rectify this or even that I should, or indicated that it is too much of an inconvenience (for either of us), I guess I have to live with it as best I can.

So the days of blissful youthful ignorance are at an end. I can do something about my constitution and I intend to.

Dr. Nirmal Candra gave me a few herbs, and also a diet. This is the crunch–one of the items I have to avoid is potato!! Arghh! The king of vegies, I don’t know how I will live without it. Fried, boiled, baked, mashed, you name it, potato has been one of my life-long love affairs.

 potato eyes

I had actually been told many years ago in 1986 by Damodara Prasada Sastri, the Kaviraja from Calcutta who had treated Srila Prabhupada in his final two weeks, that I should not take potatoes, but it was an impossible-to-follow advice.

This is the first time since then that I have been advised in the same way. I didn’t follow Shastri’s advice because he simply told me, but didn’t explain why. But Nirmal Candra explained with a diagram how the stomach is the center for kapha, the pancreas is the center for pitta, and the colon is the center for vata. An imbalance in these three centers means disease of various kinds in the other organs of the body.

So that’s it. Tonight I said farewell to two of my favorite preparations.  One of our householders stands opposite the Samadi with a glass box perched on a rickshaw. It is filled with golf ball sized crispy brown puris, called pushkas.

pushkas 

 I first came across them while traveling with Srila Prabhupada:

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November 02 2008

Srila Prabhupada in the Puspa Samadhi

Here’s a few pics. from this evening’s festival in the puspa-samadhi. In keeping with tradition, devotees sung “Je anilo prema dhana…” at the exact time of Srila Prabhupada’s departure, which is recorded in TKG’s Diary as 7.25 PM. That was followed by offerings of garlands by senior devotees, an arati and another puspanjali, and then offering of lamps for Kartika-vrata.

Umapati Swami offers a garland

Umapati Swami offering garland

Bhakti Charu Swami offers his garland

Bhakti Charu Swami offering garland

A tray of ghee wicks for offering kartika-dipa

ghee wicks

The Mayapur ladies offer their lamps

ladies offering their lamps

Head Pujari Jananivas prabhu

Jananivasa prabh

kirtana lead by Bhakti Charu Swami

kirtan for Srila Prabhupada




November 2 2008 – Mayapur

April 1972 Sydney

April 1972: Srila Prabhupada and Sydney temple president, Mohanananda dasa. Photo by Amogha dasa.

Today is Srila Prabhupada’s 31st Disappearance festival, which I am celebrating in Mayapur.  I decided to return here from Vrndavana and observe His Divine Grace’s departure pastime at  his puspasamadhi in the more intimate and peaceful atmosphere of Mayapur-dhama.

There are not so many crowds and the ceremony is more simply observed, but it has its own sweetness and style. The puspa-samadhi is a beautiful building, its only drawback being the terrible accoustics. The sound echoes around the dome and the smooth concrete walls and you have to sit in the right spot to hear properly. For this reason we will be hiring one of the top accoustic engineers in India so that we don’t have the same problem in the TOVP.

After the regular morning program we gathered in the samadhi and had three hours of Srila Prabhupada katha interspersed with bhajans lead by our expert Bengali kirtaneers. We are blessed with the presence of several very senior devotees, particularly HH Umapati Swami who joined in 1966, Madhusudana and Kancanabala prabhus and their daughter who both joined in 1967, Bhakti Charu Swami, Hanumat-presaka Swami, Jananivas and Pankajanghri prabhus, Bhavananda prabhu, Sri Raga, Grahila, Suresvara, Ragatmika and others.

 The main theme seemed to be “How I joined Krsna consciousness by the mercy of Srila Prabhupada.” It was engaging hearing, each story a moving testiment to the great compassion and mercy Srila Prabhupada extended to the most fallen souls of Kali-yuga.

For my part, I had skipped the regular Deity greeting and guru-puja so that I could do my own daily puja to Prabhupada before the festival program began.

Hsd Deity of Prabhupada 

As I bathed and dressed him, I listened to the first ever recording of Srila Prabhupada, made by himself in February 1966 as he sat in his windowless, furnitureless room at 100W 72nd Street. It is his Introduction to the Geetopanisad, or Bhagavadgita.

As I absorbed myself in his resonant, careful dictation, I envisioned him sitting, alone and penniless, in the New York winter in what could only be described as a materially destitute condition. Yet with unlimited enthusiasm to execute his spiritual master’s instructions to preach Krsna consciousness to the English speaking people of the world.

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura had told him that even if noone else is there, you can still preach to the walls. And that is precisely what Srila Prabhupada did. When he spoke the Gita Introduction there was noone there to hear him. He was speaking to a machine. He had no idea whether anyone would hear what he had to say, but he had confidence that it was worth saying, and that if Krsna desired it would eventually be heard.

Then in my mind I fast-forwarded to Sydney, circa January 1972. I had met the devotees the year before on the streets of the same city, the second day I arrived there as a new immigrant from England. I bought a BTG, #37 with the rasalila dance pictured on the front. After six months working in the far north-west of the Australian outback, I had traveled back to Sydney to find the devotees.

I was materially burnt out, desperate to find some meaning to my life, seriously questioning my own sanity and looking for answers to questions that noone seemed to even understand what to speak of answer. I found the devotees and bought a Bhagavad-gita As It Is, the blue Collier MacMillan edition with a black sillouette of Lord Visnu on the front.

Collier MacMillan Gita 1968

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