379. Who will take care of them?

Yesterday, after the Bhagavtam class, Abhishek prabhu was approached by an elderly Indian gentleman.

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Abhishek prabhu (in white) listens patiently to the elderly guest (29.04.17) @ Sydney Hare Krishna temple.

He was well-dressed, had a smiling face, respectful and later declared to us that he was from Bengal, a diplomat during his working years and was now retired. Visiting his son in Sydney, he was out and about when he happened to see the temple complex. Curious, he had stepped in and eventually stayed for the Bhagavatam class. He could speak fluent Chinese too!

Anyway, it was nice to see his interest but as an elderly person, he obviously had a slight inclination towards correcting the youngsters. So, he began to quiz & debate with Abhishek prabhu (and myself too). Abhishek prabhu, for his young age, happens to be well-versed in spiritual literatures. His answers to the gentleman was cut and right – no diplomacy from him. His sharp answers actually subdued the man who now respected him more.

As we shared the breakfast table, munching on our elaborate feast (cabbage subji, carrot halva, kofta balls, coconut chutney, crispy jalebi, salad, upma and a pea curry), his attention turned to an incoming tray of hot samosas! “Is that samosa?“, he asked like a little child. Before we could answer, he picked his plate and hurried towards the server. Grabbing a piece topped by a generous amount of tamarind chutney, he sat back on his seat again. As his eyes twinkled over his conquest, I quickly ran over and got me a piece too. Abhishek was avoiding anything deeply fried although he was munching away on that crispy jalebi pieces! Hypocrisy, i say!

As the man relished his samosa, he asked, “Are you both living at the temple?“. We replied that we weren’t but the Brahmacaris (renunciant students) were. He looked at us with concern and asked, “You mean they have no house of  their own, no job also?“. Abhishek prabhu explained that as brahmacaris, they had no outside work or financial assets, were devoted to the temple full-time and were under the care of the temple management. The man’s fatherly instincts were raised, “But how is that possible? How can someone live without any work and no money – how will they get food and clothes? What if he wants to buy a tooth-brush?! Who will give?“, he asked with great concern.

I thought that was funny and chuckled. Who will get their tooth-brush? I told him that just like there are people for whom material assets are important for their security, there were those who were completely attached to devotional service of the Lord. In that service, they are completely dependant on Him for all their needs, sustenance and protection. I told him that it’s hard for people like us to understand or live such a lifestyle but those who had made the jump were happy. I told him that temple took care of  their food, clothing and shelter besides engaging them in a wide variety of devotional work. He seemed surprised but content that they were being looked after. He eventually finished his meals, bid us farewell, promising to return again next weekend too.

Many things passed by mind after the incident:

  1. Life of brahmacaris: how sacrifice, austerity, simplicity and unselfish devotional service is so pure, healthy and powerful.
  2. Goal in life during old age: Instead of spending time visiting children here and there, attached to one’s past work life & achievements, it’s important that one takes up full-time devotional life also after retirement.
  3. My fortune of being a part of a devotee network early on in life: The earlier one takes the risk and associates with a spiritual group, the better.
  4. Importance of regular study: Watching Abhishek prabhu answer the questions from a shastric angle was so wonderful to watch. It inspired me to study regularly, contemplate more and apply the learnings in one’s life.

So, that was a great Saturday morning well spent, i thought.

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376. Offering food to the Lord

Yes, it’s possible. You can offer food to the Lord. Ofcourse, the usual question from a lay person is, “Why does God need food if He is God?“. The answer from the devotees of the Lord is simple, “because He loves to!“. God is a person and He enjoys relationship with the living entities in a wide variety of moods. In our day to day world, preparing and offering food to someone is often seen as an act of kindness and love you have for that special someone. A mother is always looking to prepare tasty preparations for her child, a chef wants to show-off his skills in cooking by preparing food with great care to his customers and perhaps you are cooking for someone out of your friendship. The ancient scriptures says that you can do the same with the Lord too.

Using the very things the Lord has provided us with and offering it back to Him with love is very much appreciated by God. When a child borrows money from his/her parents and then buys a gift for them from that very same money, moves the parents a lot. They had no need for that little gift nor are they dependent on the child for such things – they can get better ones. But what matters is the action & consciousness of the child. This is very much appreciated by the adults. In the same way, the Lord is also moved when we purchase grocery with happiness, cooks a wonderful meal and then offers to Him with love. The Lord greedily accepts these preparations and longs for more from a devotee. Ofcourse, you may see the food still sit on the table but what you can’t see is that He has touched the food offered, taken them in full and also left them for you to have in the same quantity. It’s easy for Him to do these contradictory things 🙂 When you take such food, what you are having is spiritually sanctified food, free of karma or any violence. Make sure its only vegetarian as He doesn’t like non-vegetarian food including no onion, garlic or mushrooms! Such food is called “prasad”.

In the Hare Krishna tradition, there is a method of offering the food on the prayer altar. In the below content from the Mayapur Academy newsletter, you can see the clear steps outlined. So, next time you prepare and begin to consume anything for yourself, kindly do spend some time offering them to the beautiful Lord before you start.

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350. HH Bhaktivinoda Swami visit

Last weekend, i had the great privilege to meet His Holiness Bhaktivinoda Swami. The meet came as a complete surprise. It seemed he had expressed an interest to visit our yoga centre in the city and perhaps lead a short kirtan.

Running up the stairs, i was mentally preparing on what to say to prepare him for the evening. It would be a short meeting i was told as he had only recently arrived. But we spoke for an hour almost!!

Maharaj spoke at length about his activities in South India and his great ambition to learn about various outreach activities at various ISKCON temples. His mannerisms and enthusiasm was very youthful and energetic.

Anyways, he arrived at our venue in the evening and truly stole the show with a wonderful kirtan dedicating it to the life and values of Nelson Mandela who had passed away the day before.

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After his kirtan, i mentioned on the microphone to him, “Thank you for turning the place upside down with your ecstatic kirtan!!”. He took the mic and enthusiastically said, “Spirituality means turning inside out!!”.

Looking forward to having him back in Melbourne next year.

349. Our attention

Me just thinking….

As practicing devotees, i think there are 3 matters that we are attracted to/concerned with most of the times:

(1) Problems of the material world
(2) Issues with governance
(3) Atheistic mindset of the common people

But to grow further spiritually, nurture an even more softer heart and to fulfil the full mission of the human life, we must put extreme efforts in understanding a 4th subject matter:

– Krishna’s Pastimes

348. Devotees goal in life

“The most intelligent devotees, therefore, do not take to any means of self-realization except devotional service and constant engagement in the nine different processes of devotional life, especially hearing and chanting. When hearing and chanting about Your transcendental pastimes, Your devotees do not care even for the transcendental bliss derived from liberation or from merging into the existence of the Supreme. Such devotees are not interested even in so-called liberation, and they certainly have no interest in material activities for elevation to the heavenly planets for sense gratification. Pure devotees seek only the association of paramahaṁsas, or great liberated devotees, so that they can continuously hear and chant about Your glories. For this purpose the pure devotees are prepared to sacrifice all comforts of life, even giving up the material comforts of family life and so-called society, friendship and love. Those who have tasted the nectar of devotion by relishing the transcendental vibration of chanting Your glories – Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare – do not care for any other spiritual bliss or for material comforts, which appear to the pure devotee as less important than the straw in the street”

Excerpt From: His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. “Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust.

340. Harinam Planning

Attended a super exciting and well prepared presentation by Nanda Mandir on the importance of Harinam in Melbourne city. Although, there have been a few devotees who roam the main city centre once or twice a week, the intention now is to step up with a more coordinated, well orchestrated, well-presented, better organized and covering more regions of Melbourne for 2014. Big dreams, big planning and a big team – how else can we enter every town and every village of Melbourne! Wish us all the best ! Jai !

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311. Start to Start

5 years ago, I was really wanting to do something for Srila Prabhupad (Founder – Acharya of the Hare Krishna Movement). I was living 2 hours away and barely had the association of devotees, the temple and the spiritually sanctified food. All there was as company were the books, the prayer altar and the chanting beads. And the ideas too. Somehow or another, I decided to put together a vegetarian cooking class hoping that this would please the crowd I was after as well as Prabhupada and Lord Krishna. What else could I do but give people, a chance to hear the holy name or associate with the Lord’s devotees or even honour the vegetarian food offerings. So, I carried out the project with the mindset – “I will do what I have to do with sincerity and every other outcomes will come from Their mercy. It’s not in my hands.”

You can read all about that Cooking with Chef Kurma adventure from 5 years ago here.

Guess what happened? 2 guests from that very program, got initiated (accepting a spiritual master) this morning ! The potency of spiritual endeavour, Krishna’s devotees and the Lord’s mercy, can change people’s heart and consciousness even if it takes a long time !!

 

The 2 guests – Craig and Adam became our friends over the years and very seriously pursued their intention to take their Krishna Consciousness life ahead. It was a difficult road for them taking into account the culture shock, the strict lifestyle and the new philosophy. But their keen interest and friendship with other devotees helped them get closer and closer to their spiritual master.

And now their real journey starts.  Like my own little start in preaching the glories of this movement, they too will have to go on with sincerity and faith. These 2 things are vital ingredients in one’s spiritual progress.

All the best Krishna Dasa and Balarama Dasa !