383. Liverpool Ratha Yatra

Had an awesome day yesterday!

2:30am: Wake up
4am – 5:25am: Travel to temple
5:25am – 6:50am: Deity paraphernalia service
6:50-7am: Gobble down maha-sweets as a award to myself for the morning activities
7am-7:10am: Checking out my friends iPad out
7:15am – 8:45am: Deity greeting, Guru Puja, Bhagavatam class
8:45am-9:30am: Massive breakfast prasadam (rice, zucchini curry, puri, coconut chutney, tomato chutney & halva)
9:30am – 10:45am: Bus & train travel to Liverpool where the Ratha Yatra would be held.

As i get out of the train station and look for directions to the carpark where the event would be held, someone touches me on the shoulder and says, “Hari Bol!”

I turned around and its Sri Prabhalad prabhu, the wonderful devotee and kirtaneer. I was so happy to see him there. Every time i see him, i am reminded of my early days of ISKCON where his kirtan would sustain me. Together, we make our way to the venue using Google Maps. We almost got lost before a devotee came looking for him. A short walk and we were at the venue – a car park.

The car park were full of devotees! There was s stage and an altar. Prasad and book distribution counters were being setup. Thick waft of Vrindhavana incense filled the underground park and passed into the street outside. Prabhus in dhotis, others in western wear (me included), matajis in super colourful indian attire and kids running around – the place looked, felt & sounded like a temple!!

Sri Prahalad prabhu got into action right away adorning himself with a harmonium. A prabhu held out a mic for him. Young boys on karatalas and mridangas joined in. Lord Jagannath, Baladeva and Subadra got into Their carts. The local Council members stood in front with a coconut in their hands, ready to smash them to the ground. They looked amused as they were told they would be doing this! Once that ceremony was done, the cart was signalled to move. Devotees cheered, onlookers gathered by the pavements and kirtan was in full swing.

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A devotee came running towards me and said, “Prabhu, come quickly! We need a person to carry their Lordships and Their palanquin!”. I couldn’t believe my luck! I had the same opportunity when the Ratha Yatra was opened at the St. Kilda Festival, some 6-7 years ago! There were 4 boys resting the palanquin on their shoulder but it was slightly slanted because i was short compared to the others! So after some 10 mins of walking, i was replaced by someone with the right height that matched everyone else. Yet, i was happy and thankful for the opportunity. The rest of the trip, I continued to walk with Them lest i might get an opportunity again.

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Basically, we went along the streets circling the carpark. Storekeepers and their customers spilled onto the street to watch the procession. Some smiled and some looked confused. It seemed to me that they had no idea what was going on. To them, it looked liked some Hindu festival. I wish many of them were given handouts about the significance of the event, invited to pull the ropes and perhaps ask them to join us for the lunch prasad afterwards.

Speaking about prasad, this was on the menu – big pooris, tomato chutney, green salad, rice, eggplant & paneer subji, water & cordial. It was nice – everyone were hungry! There were some stage shows but i didn’t stay back for them as i was so sleepy by now. Walked back to the bus stand, and took a 1.5 hr trip back home.

I couldn’t help thinking that as Lord Jagannath travels across the streets with the gigantic ropes, a large cart and plenty of devotees, He is actually riding on the road on our hearts. May He continue to give us this privilege year after year!

Here are the video highlights:

 

 

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380. Hare Krishna! – the movie

From real life to reel life!

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Srila Prabhupada, the founder-acharya of the Hare Krishna movement, his contributions, his spiritual outlook and the experiences of his disciples & grand disciples will be available on the big screen in a month’s time!

Through the wonderful efforts of Yadubara prabhu (John Griesser) and his wife Vishaka mataji (Jean Griesser), this documentary will give people an idea on what the Hare Krishna solution to the suffering world is all about. I am hoping that someone will get inspired to make a full length hollywood movie on Srila Prabhupad.

The official Facebook page is here. Please LIKE them!
https://www.facebook.com/harekrishnathefilm/

Here is the official website of the movie:
http://harekrishnathefilm.com

Here is the trailer video if you want to watch it quickly:

If you want to help, here is the director team’s request for financial assistance:
https://www.generosity.com/fundraising/hare-krishna-the-film

The movie will premiere at the Illuminate Film Festival. Here is the website for more info: http://illuminatefilmfestival.com/films2017.php

If you want to read through a quick bio of the directors, here it is:
> Yadubara Dasa: http://howicame.com/yadubara-dasa/
> Vishaka Devi Dasi: http://btg.krishna.com/vishakha-devi-dasi

Vishaka mataji has also written a wonderful book, “Five Years, Eleven Months and a lifetime of unexpected love“, which you can buy at Amazon. Here is the link.

Hoping all that links above will help you link with the Hare Krishna! movement 🙂 Please let me know of your thoughts of the movie after you have watched it in the comments below. In the meantime, let’s wish the entire team with our best wishes, blessings and hopes! Good luck Hare Krishna team!

367. Rain & Kirtan

Stepped out of home and didn’t realize the rain was so strong! Seemed like a mini storm out there – thrashing rain and wind. Unable to hold the umbrella open, i ran to the temple as fast as i could. Full drenched now, changing shoes with someone else’s and gathering few devotees, took the tram to city to help setup the evening kirtan night program. Got there and helped put it all up and ready to welcome the guests. Then i was told if i could open the night for all. Gathering up some strength, thoughts and words, i said a few things over the microphone welcoming everyone. I could have done better i think but what to do now? Anyways, the kirtans have started and everyone is absolutely relaxed and meditative. Me too.

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365. His Holiness Bhakti Rasamrita Swami visit

The much awaited visit of the year is here ! HH Bhakti Rasamrita Swami will be in Melbourne for the next 10 days and I attended first of his talk yesterday – Faith in Scriptures.

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Maharaj took time to clarify the difference between blind faith and educated faith. He cited so many examples from both the scriptures. srila prabhupada and his own to make everyone understand. The only disappointing part of the evening were (1) mobile phones going off (2) little children making noise; while the talk was going on.

Almost on all mornings, he will be giving Srimad Bhagavatam class which ought not to be missed.

Also looking forward to his talk at Urban Yoga, a place for the general mass of public to start their spiritual education. Yesterday i was asked to choose 3 topics for him to choose from and this is what i came with:

1) City of 9 Gates
The intricate workings of the body, senses, mind and soul. The theme is basically- we know so many things of the world but do we know out own body.

2) Blind Faith
Making one understand that devotees/spiritualists have a structured and scientific process to understanding their life and scriptures and that true religion is not a blind faith.

3) Understanding the 4 Pillars of Spirituality
This topic relates to making one understand how austerity, truthfulness, cleanliness and mercy are an integral part of building ones character and foundation.

Hope one of them works! And more realizations and updates coming up!

362. Festival of Colours tomorrow

Can’t wait any longer for this Sunday
In colours of red, blue and green, I will play
Friends, family and strangers, meet I will
It’s all happening on the 27th of April

Will you be there, o will you be there?
So happy you will be, with our love and care
The valley has cows, a goat and flowers
You will see this all on the festival of colours!

Please come over and together we celebrate
And that vegetarian food promises to be great
Jump, dance and sing in a mood of festivity
And those who can’t make it, o what a pity!

309. Narasimha Chaturdashi 2013

To remember and celebrate the appearance day of a wonderful form of the Lord today, I share a photo I took many years ago along with my 2nd ever poem I have just written for you all. It describes the famous incident that happened many years ago between a devotee and the Lord. Hope you like it.

Born in a womb was a boy with deep love of the Lord
Enlightened he was by his guru while still connected to the cord
He grew up as a gentle one, so fully immersed in God’s thought
Greed, envy and body pleasures he easily fought.

His father and school teachers remain bewildered
They spoke to him in devious ways to have him filtered
Forced him they did, to take up sense gratification and economic development
But the boy focused on love of Godhead and other topics irrelevant.

Father’s desires foiled and ego very hurt
Kill the boy, he ordered his servants with great assert
Treacherous as they were, they failed in their attempt
In his heart the boy had the Lord and from death he was exempt.

His father remained in confusion, fear and deep rage
Looking down at the boy, rebuking war of words he began to wage
You the most impudent, most unintelligent, the disruptor of family!, he yelled
The lowest of mankind, an obstinate fool, to rule you fully you dare withheld!

The boy so tender said with love in his prayer folded hand
Source of my strength is your source also, please understand
The Lord is the time factor and supreme controller
Know that our senses, mind and body are in His power.

Enemies and friends, in your heart don’t discriminate
Uncontrolled and misguided mind, please do eliminate
See everyone on the platform of equality
Then you shall worship the beautiful Lord perfectly.

Lust, anger and greed, illusion, madness and jealousy
Fight these six enemies for it is not a heresy
You shall then see all life with no difference
For enemies and friends are merely borne out of ignorance.

Show me this supreme controller, his father ordered in anger
Show me this all pervading one and a supreme another
If He is everywhere and every time, is He also in this pillar?
Let him now come and protect you for I shall now be your killer!

Throwing harsher words and curses, the father struck the big column
A thunderous sound emerged from it and everywhere pieces fallen
Never before seen like that, the Lord stepped out as half-human and half-lion
Together, the father and son fixed their gaze at the new family scion.

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The Lord stood there with shining mane, erect ears, neck short and thick
His chest broad, waist thin and a fearsome tongue moving quick
His eyes angry, His face fearful, His teeth deadly
How can this be God all wondered for it was truly scary.

Like a small insect falling forcefully into a blazing fire
The father wanting to fight leaped at Him with his body entire
The loving Lord looked and laughed out loud so shrilling
Amazed He was at the desire of man to make a killing.

As a bird takes away a snake so easily
The Lord arrested him ever-so gleefully
On His lap, the man was now fully caught
His life taken away in a manner which time never forgot.

The boy stood and watched the pastimes of His well-wisher
Moving closer to the fearful form, he exhibited no shiver
He paid his respects to Him in so very humble way
And the Lord offered His love and protection with no further delay.

Seated on His lap, he looked back with love and reverence
The Lord’s touch had freed and placed him in transcendence
How could I attract You?, he said in a faltering voice
How am I able to offer prayers with proper words of choice?

One understands Me only in love, God replied
The wise ones please Me in many mellows and with no pride
Everyone’s desires I watch and alone fulfill
Lamentation I remove and satisfaction I instill.

My devotees hanker after no opulence now or later
Remaining in the material world to them does not matter
Remembering My messages and me, they remain steady
End of their lives and freed from bondage, they attain Me.

One who remembers your life and My actions
One who ponders over your prayers and instructions
Happy they become always in their devotional proclivities
Breaking free eventually from reactions to material activities.

O dear Lord, You are merciful to all, said the boy so little
A wish I ask from You, one who is never ever brittle
Please forgive my father who glanced upon You
Although heavy and unnecessary words at You he threw.

O gentle one, the Lord said, purified your father became in My clutch
Your forefathers and generations the same because of My touch
Whenever and wherever present those devotees of good qualities
Even if condemned are purified those places and dynasties.

The Lord disappeared then and the boy lived on
Ages have passed but this form of Lord, we still meditate upon
We seek intelligence to serve like this boy known as Prahalada
We always pray for protection from the Lord known as Narasimha.

Please protect us from danger and fear
Please help us through the world so severe
Please allow my heart to blossom fresh and new
Please give me the humility to say I love You.

279. Suresvara Prabhu Visit

He came, he delivered, he conquered.

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What a wonderful week and a half it has been with Suresvara Prabhu (Prabhupad disciple) at our temple. I had seen him many times during my trips to the Dham in years before but never did I expect that he would be a storehouse of knowledge on Prabhupad, sastras and the world in general.

Over a period of 10 classes, he dwelled deep into Srila Prabhupad’s mood, mission, teachings and life and made us strongly aware of the need to have a solid foundational relationship with him. He made us understand that we have a direct link with the Founder-Acharya which we must never forget or take for granted. He emphasised the importance of each devotee within our movement taking the reins and responsibility of being a guru and trying our best to propagate what Prabhupad stood for. He motivated and encouraged us.

The highlights of his course were the carefully prepared slides, well-researched topics, beautiful life incidents of Prabhupad (delivered expertly mimicking Prabhupad’s voice and accent) as well as stories from his younger days. All the sessions ran a packed house and he said we were a very good set of audience.

After today’s Bhagavatam class, he bid farewell to us all promising to return in January next year. I know it’s the same with others too, but I really do miss him and his seminar. Taking one closer to Prabhupad is such a wonderful thing to do and he did that to us. I highly recommend his course/seminar to one and all. If you ever have the opportunity, just go. Don’t miss any of the class. You will be touched.

Thank you Suresvara Prabhu for your enthusiasm and wisdom you shared with us. We look forward to welcoming you back, wishing you safe travels and Sweet Gaura Dreams!