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!

296. Not your body to everybody

Attended a deep lecture by His Holiness Janananda Goswami Maharaj at our Urban Yoga centre in the city yesterday. We had guests from many parts of the world – South America, Vietnam, USA, UK, Singapore. And for them they hear for the first time – they are not who they think they are – either by body, either by nationality or by culture. They were becoming more and more aware that they could also pursue spirituality because they were one themselves.

What’s the next step, many ponder.

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295. Pi

Few months ago now, we had a wonderful devotee brahmacari from South Africa, Kavi Karnapura Das touch base with our centre here.

Kavi Karnapura Das

Kavi Karnapura Das

He gave a few lectures at our home, university and yoga centres. In one of his first lecture on “True Relationships”, he spoke about the living entity and his mind. And to make the point clear, he gave an example which struck me – Life of Pi, the movie.

Life_of_Pi_cover

The Book

The movie

The movie

I had never heard about that movie till this time. He said it was a movie about a boy who gets lost in the ocean on a little boat with a wild tiger. Not a good arrangement, he noted. He explained that we can learn about life from this arrangement – the boy represents a living entity/soul, the tiger represents our mind, the boat represents our body/human form of life and the ocean represents the world of birth, death, disease and old age. Like the boy who learns how to manage his dangerous passenger by giving it less food, we should also learn to manage our mind by feeding it with less distractions and sensory pleasures.

This example given by prabhu really stuck with me since then and something we can use often in our urban programs.People understand it quickly because they have seen the movie.

Also, it’s a fantastic way to explain a spiritual concept to people – Yann Martel for writing such a book, Ang Lee for making the movie and a devotee (the movie audience) explaining it deeply to the rest of the people. Today, I wanted to find more about this movie and the motivation behind it. And what I found surprised me a little in that the author had also wanted to showcase a spiritual journey. And those who analyzed it also considered it as one :

  • Life of Pi is a fantasy adventure novel by Yann Martel published in 2001. The protagonist, Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel, a Tamil boy from Pondicherry, explores issues of spirituality and practicality from an early age.. Pi is raised a Hindu, but as a fourteen-year-old he exposes himself to Christianity and Islam, and starts to follow all three religions as he “just wants to love God.” He tries to understand God through the lens of each religion and comes to recognize benefits in each one. – Wikipedia
  • In 2010 Barack Obama wrote a letter directly to Martel, describing Life of Pi as “an elegant proof of God, and the power of storytelling”
  • He acquires layer after layer of diverse spirituality and brilliantly synthesizes it into a personal belief system and devotional life that is breathtaking in its depth and scope. His youthful exploration into comparative religion culminates in a magnificent epiphany of sorts. —Phoebe Kate Foster of PopMatters
  • Master Plots suggested the “Central themes of Life of Pi concern religion and human faith in God”

One of the quotes from the movie which I found online, really made sense to me :

I had to stop hoping so much that a ship would rescue me. I should not count on outside help. Survival had to start with me. In my experience, a castaway’s worst mistake is to hope too much and do too little. Survival starts by paying attention to what is close at hand and immediate. To look out with idle hope is tantamount to dreaming one’s life away

As our Prabhupad himself says in Srimad Bhagavatam 1.15.50

When flying an airplane, one cannot take care of other planes. Everyone has to take care of his own plane, and if there is any danger, no other plane can help another in that condition. Similarly, at the end of life, when one has to go back home, back to Godhead, everyone has to take care of himself without help rendered by another. The help is, however, offered on the ground before flying in space. Similarly, the spiritual master, the father, the mother, the relatives, the husband and others can all render help during one’s lifetime, but while crossing the sea one has to take care of himself and utilize the instructions formerly received. Draupadi had five husbands, and no one asked Draupadi to come; Draupadi had to take care of herself without waiting for her great husbands.

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The right way to cross the ocean is always to be in the association of devotees & the Lord.

Once mind is controlled, your true friend will be with you all the way.

Once mind is controlled, your true friend will be with you all the way.

284. “How Might We Die Well?”

How Might We Die Well?.

On a complete randomness, I came across this interesting article (when you click on the link above), where the author has written an interesting post on dying well or precisely, creating conditions so that we may die well.

The Dying Valentine Gode-Darel - Ferdinand Hodler

It’s great that there are still people out there who are thinking that life isn’t permanent after all. In the article, the author makes 5 important “must-haves” :

1. Dying well means that you have access to quality health care and quality death care

2. Dying well means that your community will hold you, in death as they did in life, and will not abandon you

3. Dying well means that you have prepared things such that you might have peace of mind about those you leave behind

4. Dying well means having your wishes about your own death process known and followed

5. Dying well means practicing dying

What do you all think? As practicing Hare Krishna devotees, I am sure we will have a deeper spiritual insight to these observations. Will you share your understandings & realizations in comments here? I shall post my understandings in my next blog post or perhaps in comments too.


Pic : Wikipaintings

283. Reach and Engagement

I was just thinking about Mahaprabhu’s prediction on how His holy name would be sung in every town and village one day. What a goal ! Besides our current activities of festivals, prasadam distribution (restaurants and thru events), books, street harinaams etc, how else can the mission spread?

1. Strong digital presence
Online ads (featuring festivals, restaurants, retreats), Official ISKCON social media pages & social ads targeting & engaging with the non-devotee public, Official webpage (a single one) explaining our lifestyle, tradition and goals in a language easily understandable by the public, frequent podcasts & popularizing devotee blogs are some of the methods we can start with.We must also have an active online TV & Radio programs featuring interviews, music and short lectures.

We all know the extent of reach that internet has in everyone’s life. Every village to major urban centres are now inter-connected. They have them at homes, offices, schools, universities – everywhere ! The first place people will search for God will be Google. Are we on top of the organic and paid search listings? Nope.

2. Varna reach
Having special teams who would approach senior & junior executives in the political & legal circles, farmers and business families, university staff and scientists groups would be a very important step in implementing Prabhupad’s Varnashram system. Educating people at this level – directly & one-to-one would be a great way to forge deeper relationships with people who in many ways are disconnected from us.

Starting our own farms is a very big task (land, people, money and ensuring long-term sustenance) but an easier and a quicker way would be to convert existing farmers (of the karmi world) to our style of farming. This is speaking their language. Asking a farmer to distribute books or host festivals may not be as appealing to them as making them aware how responsible farming through Krishna Consciousness can help them in their own consciousness, their productivity and general well-being of their customers. For one to enter farming life requires a long family tradition as well or if you are starting one now, you need a good knowledge of farming which can be carried out for successive generations. There are many farming families around and we need to reach them now (starting with vegetable/fruit produce based) because they are one of the most important people in society who can make a change at the moment- not even the politicians.

The best type of devotees to reach out to politicians, legal bodies and academic staff would be the Sanyasis & older renunciates. The best group to reach out to farmers would be the married/grihasta household. The best one’s to reach out to students & junior employees would be the bramacharis & brahmacharinis.

3. Events
I am surprised at the number of conferences and seminars conducted by numerous other traditions around the world. We are not there actively hosting our own information seminars and national conferences. We have so many things to talk about related to science, spirituality, health, astrology, animal protection, volunteerism etc. Every year we must hold at least 2 mega conferences in a country on 2 important topics that would attract people from all walks of life. It’s important that people know our insights and solutions to world problems.

We must also actively participate in events/conferences/seminars of other groups. For example, many cities conduct wedding expos every year showcasing jewellery, wedding planners, venues, hotels, caterers etc. Why not take up a stall featuring the Hare Krishna wedding offerings? We can have brochures, visiting cards and video displayed at our stall for people to understand how they can have a spiritual wedding in their city. Why not conduct a mock Hare Krishna wedding on a stage at the venue? At our own temple, we have had so many weddings from non-devotee couples for the thrill of doing something different. And by doing so they have accumulated so much spiritual credits – stepping into our temples, seeing the Deities, honoring prasadam and inviting huge groups of their friends and families to do the same!

4. Schools, Hospitals, Restaurants, Yoga centres
It’s time we seriously planned the setting up of atleast 1 school and a hospital in every country we operate in. This would not only help our growing devotee groups but the general public also. Through such centres, we will continue to exhibit our friendly nature, our caring attitude, our goals and lifestyle.

As yoga is gaining immense popularity, we must probably look at opening yoga studios across major cities with a “Hard Rock Cafe” styled branding, meaning that all centres would have the same name. This helps in building familiarity and prestige quickly.  Should we be looking into having yoga teachers training (including ayurveda) within our centres? Do we need to match up to the world’s needs for a more holistic and organic living through our own expert teachers in these fields?

What do you think?

Of course, there are countless other means to propagate the Holy Name but these were the ones constantly playing in my head. They look like humongous tasks but we are talking about changing the world right? There are no unrealistic goals but only unrealistic time frames. With 300 odd centres and couple of hundred thousand members, I am sure if we work cooperatively and with a mind for innovation, we might just be able to do it a got part in our lifetime! Besides even if we achieve only 1 % of the result, imagine the excitement & maturity that would be generated amongst all levels of our congregation with such high goals. WoW!

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!