Thursday, 28 November 2013

Mayapur - Where every step is dance and every word is a song

Finally at Mayapur.Fourth day and enjoying the spiritual bliss.
View from the  room where  I am staying. 

Gaura Nitai deities at Srila Prabhupad's Bhajan kutir, a small hut where Prabhupad used to stay, while the construction activity was going on.  

A side view of TOVP - Temple of Vedic planetorium.

The Gada Bhavan

Friday, 15 November 2013

My Achievements in life

A nice quote by C. Hoppe "I hope that my achievements in life shall be these — that I will have fought for what was right and fair, that I will have risked for that which mattered, and that I will have given help to those who were in need that I will have left the earth a better place for what I've done and who I’ve been". 

Forests Our Natural Treasure,The Story of a Hummingbird and The Ultimate Peace Formula

So,would you not agree that forests are such a great treasure for all of us and for the coming generations.They give us wood, food, fruits, clean air, rains and what not.As a child, I used to go around the woods in grandfathers estate.I used to roam by myself, hours together.And, there used to be so many intresting and fascinating things to watch and learn.Forest of course is a place where Humans dont inhibit but, I feel that forest is where the life actually.Right from the small insects,Birds, reptiles like snakes, lizards, Birds, rabbits and so many wonderful trees..
This is one of the pictures that I took, during our tour of one of such forest. But, this is a special one (called Bilavan or Belvan) because it is in Braja mandal i, e in the vicinity of Vrindavan (UP, India) of which so many pastimes of Lord Krishna are associated. There are 12 main forests in the Braja Mandal - On the eastern bank of the Yamuna are five forests called
•         Bhadravana,
•         Bilvavana (Belvan),
•         Lohavana (Lauhavana),
•         Bhandiravana and
•         Mahavana.
On the western side of the Yamuna are seven forests which are:
•         Madhuvana,
•         Talavana,
•         Kumudavana,
•         Bahulavana,
•         Kamyavana,
•         Khadiravana, and
•         Vrindavana.

Srimad Bhagavatam 11.25.25 - Translation and Purport by disciples of Srila Prabhupad.Here Lord Krishna is talking to Uddhava about the three modes of material nature - Goodness, Passion and ignorance and transcending these three modes. Thus, while talking about these modes, Lord Krishna talks about forest as below, 
Vanam tu sattviko vaso
gramo rajasa ucyate
tamasam dyuta-sadanam
man-niketam tu nirgunam
TRANSLATION: Residence in the forest is in the mode of goodness, residence in a town is in the mode of passion, residence in a gambling house displays the quality of ignorance, and residence in a place where I reside is transcendental.
PURPORT : Many creatures in the forest, such as the trees, wild boars and insects, are actually in the modes of passion and ignorance. But residence in the forest is designated as being in the mode of goodness because there one may live a solitary life free from sinful activities, material opulence and passionate ambition. Throughout the history of India, many millions of persons from all walks of life have adopted the orders of vanaprastha and sannyasa and have gone to sacred forests to practice austerity and perfect their self-realization. Even in America and other Western countries, persons such as Thoreau achieved fame by retiring to the forest to reduce the scope and opulence of material involvement.

Let us get inspired from this, short story of a Humming Bird by Wangari Maathai and do our part to save our forests.(
"The story of hummingbird is about this huge forest being consumed by a fire.All the animals in the forest come out,and they are transfixed as they watch the forest burning,and they feel to be awkward they are powerless except this little humming bird, it says I am going to do something about the it flies to the nearest stream takes some drop water, and puts it on the fire and goes up and down, up and down,as fast as it can In the mean time, all the other animals, much bigger animals, like the elephants,with big trunk, could bring much more water,they are standing there helpless,and they are saying to the humming bird: What do you think you can do ? Your are too little ! This fire is too big !Your wings are too little, and your beak is so small,only can bring a small drop of water at a time !But as they continue to discourage it it turns to them without wasting any time,and tells them:I am doing the best I can.And that to me is what all of us should do,..
we should always fly like a hummingbird.I may feel insignificant,but I certainly don't want to be like the animals watching as the planet goes down the drain.I will be a humming bird.I will do the best I can."

“Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is important that you do it”. - Mahatma Gandhi.

Another short story from Hanuman’s life - While Hanuman was hefting huge mountain tops into the sea to build the bridge to Lanka, he noticed a tiny spider brushing small particles of dust into the water with its legs to assist Lord Rama. He was about to brush the spider out of the way of his own serious work, when Ramachandra admonished him, saying, “Give up your pride! This spider’s devotional service is just as satisfying to me as yours. You are serving me according to your capacity, and he is serving Me according to his capacity.”

So, what is the root cause of all this.Why does a man destroy his planet, the place where he lives and what is the solution for all these problems?. The ultimate peace formula is explained by Lord Krishna himself in Bhagavad-gītā Chapter 5.Verse 29.(Translation and purport by His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupad)

bhoktāramm yajña-tapasāmm
suhrdaḿ sarva-bhūtānāmm
jñātvā māmm śāntim rcchati

TRANSLATION: A person in full consciousness of Me, knowing Me to be the ultimate beneficiary of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods, and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attains peace from the pangs of material miseries.

PURPORT: The conditioned souls within the clutches of illusory energy are all anxious to attain peace in the material world. But they do not know the formula for peace, which is explained in this part of the Bhagavad-gītā. The greatest peace formula is simply this: Lord Kṛṣṇa is the beneficiary in all human activities. Men should offer everything to the transcendental service of the Lord because He is the proprietor of all planets and the demigods thereon. No one is greater than He. He is greater than the greatest of the demigods, Lord Śiva and Lord Brahmā. In the Vedas (Śvetāśvatara Upaniad 6.7) the Supreme Lord is described as tam īśvarāāḿ paramaḿ maheśvaraḿ. Under the spell of illusion, living entities are trying to be lords of all they survey, but actually they are dominated by the material energy of the Lord. The Lord is the master of material nature, and the conditioned souls are under the stringent rules of material nature. Unless one understands these bare facts, it is not possible to achieve peace in the world either individually or collectively. This is the sense of Kṛṣṇa consciousness: Lord Kṛṣṇa is the supreme predominator, and all living entities, including the great demigods, are His subordinates. One can attain perfect peace only in complete Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

This Fifth Chapter is a practical explanation of Krishna consciousness, generally known as karma-yoga. The question of mental speculation as to how karma-yoga can give liberation is answered herewith. To work in Kṛṣṇa consciousness is to work with the complete knowledge of the Lord as the predominator. Such work is not different from transcendental knowledge. Direct Kṛṣṇa consciousness is bhakti-yoga, and jñāna-yoga is a path leading to bhakti-yoga. Kṛṣṇa consciousness means to work in full knowledge of one's relationship with the Supreme Absolute, and the perfection of this consciousness is full knowledge of Kṛṣṇa, or the Supreme Personality of Godhead. A pure soul is the eternal servant of God as His fragmental part and parcel. He comes into contact with māyā (illusion) due to the desire to lord it over māyā, and that is the cause of his many sufferings. As long as he is in contact with matter, he has to execute work in terms of material necessities. Krishna consciousness, however, brings one into spiritual life even while one is within the jurisdiction of matter, for it is an arousing of spiritual existence by practice in the material world. The more one is advanced, the more he is freed from the clutches of matter. The Lord is not partial toward anyone. Everything depends on one's practical performance of duties in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, which helps one control the senses in every respect and conquer the influence of desire and anger. And one, who stands fast in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, controlling the abovementioned passions, remains factually in the transcendental stage, or brahma-nirvāa. The eightfold yoga mysticism is automatically practiced in Kṛṣṇa consciousness because the ultimate purpose is served. There is a gradual process of elevation in the practice of yama, niyama, āsana, prāāyāma, pratyāhāra, dhāraā, dhyāna and samādhi. But these only preface perfection by devotional service, which alone can award peace to the human being. It is the highest perfection of life.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Crossways : A Vegetarian Restaurant

I am wondering, how many of you living in Melbourne visited CrossWays - A vegetarian restaurant located at 123 Swanston street, Melbourne CBD. This is the place, I used to frequent as a student, for my lunch and takeaways. The opening Hours are convenient, Monday – Saturday 11.30 – 3.30pm and the prices are very cheap - considering that its All you can eat for: $7.50 or $5.50 (with Concession Card).After a long gap, I went again today and the quality and taste is the same or even better today (As advised by a gentleman who was sitting on the other side of table, opposite to me).

So, what's the menu?
Monday: Satay Vegetables & Jasmine Rice, Raisin Halava
Tuesday: Red Kidney Beans & Brown Rice, Peach Halava
Wednesday: Chickpea/Spinach Subji & Jasmine Rice, Cherry Halava
Thursday: Malaysian Curry & Brown Rice, Orange & coconut
Friday: Thai Curry & Jasmin Rice, Pineapple Halava
Saturday: Special Subji & Special Rice, Date Halava.
The Desserts are served with custard.

And, drinks include Cordial,Lassi (Yogurt drink),Water.

Please, visit the place and let me know your feedback. I am sure that you won't be disappointed.

The Bhagavad-gita (17.8-10) divides foods into three classes: those of the quality of goodness, those of the quality of passion, and those of the quality of ignorance. The most healthful are the foods of goodness. "Foods of the quality of goodness [milk products, grains, fruits, and vegetables] increase the duration of life; purify one's existence; and give strength, health, happiness, and satisfaction. Such foods are sweet, juicy, fatty, and palatable."Foods that are too bitter, sour, salty, pungent, dry or hot, are of the quality of passion and cause distress.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Supreme Lord's solemn Promise & Footprints in the Sand

Here is a beautiful, reassuring verse from Bhagavad-gita as It Is by Srila Prabhupada Chapter 9.Verse 22.This is verse is situated almost in the middle of Bhagavad gita and here Lord Krishna is confirming his promise to his exclusive devotees.
ananyas cintayanto mam
ye janah paryupasate
tesham nityabhiyuktanam
yoga-kshemam vahamy aham
TRANSLATION : But those who always worship Me with exclusive devotion, meditating on My transcendental form -- to them I carry what they lack, and I preserve what they have.
There is an interesting pastime of the devotee Arjunacharya, we learn that The Lord personally takes care of the material and spiritual needs to His devotees who are fully engaged in His service. I have heard of a story of Arjunacharya,a brahmana who, when writing his commentary on the Gita, saw this verse and thought it a mistake to believe that the Lord would personally carry whatever was needed to each devotee. So, he therefore scratched out vahAmi(I personally Carry) and inserted karomi(I have it done) as he thought, "what is the need for Bhagavan doing it Himself? Being all powerful,He will get it done." He was extremely poor. After making the change in the text he went for Unjavrithi. While he was gone, his wife heard a knock at the door. Two beautiful boys fearfully insisted that she quickly accept the food that her husband had forced them to bring. These beautiful boys were anxious to get away from her house, because, they told her, the great brahmana scholar Arjunacharya, would probably beat them again. When Arjunacharya's wife expressed disbelief that her husband would beat such boys, the dark boy said,"see?" and turned to show her the marks on His back where He had been struck. Then they both dashed away.
Arjunacharya's wife was bewildered, and she began to cook and eat the food the boys had brought. Upon Arjunacharya's arrival, he was shocked to see his wife eating, as it was against the Vedic custom. When he challenged her, she replied, Acharya, why have you acted so inappropriately and become so cruel? She then told him that two boys had come and left a bountiful supply of food and after the dark boy had showed her the marks on His back, He rushed away and they asked her to cook and have her food and so she was doing so. The acharya thought for a few moments and asked what the boys looked like. Upon hearing that one was of a beautiful darkish complexion and the other was white, he could understand that his fortunate wife had been blessed with the darshana of Krishna and Balarama. The beating marks were the result of his having scratched out the word vahAmi. Krishna had been forced to come personally to prove the truth of His words, "I carry what they lack with my own hands."

And, this inturn reminds me a Poem that as a child, used to love.

Footprints in the Sand:-

One night a man had a dream. He dreamed
he was walking along the beach with the LORD.

Across the sky flashed scenes from his life.
For each scene he noticed two sets of
footprints in the sand: one belonging
to him, and the other to the LORD.

When the last scene of his life flashed before him,
he looked back at the footprints in the sand.

He noticed that many times along the path of
his life there was only one set of footprints.

He also noticed that it happened at the very
lowest and saddest times in his life.

This really bothered him and he
Questioned the LORD about it:

"LORD, you said that once I decided to follow
you, you'd walk with me all the way.
But I have noticed that during the most
troublesome times in my life,
there is only one set of footprints.
I don't understand why when
I needed you most you would leave me."

The LORD replied:

"My son, my precious child,
I love you and I would never leave you.
During your times of trial and suffering,
When you see only one set of footprints,

It was then that I carried you." written by Carolyn Joyce Carty.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Control of Mind, Body and Senses

Today is the Melbourne Cup day. The Melbourne Cup is Australia's major thoroughbred horse race. Marketed as "the race that stops a nation”. So, today it is a public holiday day and a day of fun, excitement and of course horse betting.
Hearing of horses reminded me a beautiful verse from Srimad Bhagavatham, which talks about the control of Mind, body and senses. The Analogy of a Horses is beautifully explained as below...
Translation and Purport by His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupad.
"Srimad Bhagavatam 7.15.41
ahuh sariram ratham indriyani
hayan abhishun mana indriyesam
vartmani matra dhishanam ca sutam
sattvam brihad bandhuram isa-srishtam
TRANSLATION : Transcendentalists who are advanced in knowledge compare the body, which is made by the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, to a chariot. The senses are like the horses; the mind, the master of the senses, is like the reins; the objects of the senses are the destinations; intelligence is the chariot driver; and consciousness, which spreads throughout the body, is the cause of bondage in this material world.
PURPORT : For a bewildered person in the materialistic way of life, the body, the mind and the senses, which are engaged in sense gratification, are the cause of bondage to repeated birth, death, old age and disease. But for one who is advanced in spiritual knowledge, the same body, senses and mind are the cause of liberation. This is confirmed in the Katha Upanishad (1.3.3-4,9) as follows:
atmanam rathinam viddhi
sariram ratham eva ca
buddhim tu sarathim viddhi
manah pragraham eva ca
indriyani hayan ahur
vishayams teshu gocaran
so 'dhvanah param apnoti
tad vishnoh paramam padam
The soul is the occupant of the chariot of the body, of which the driver is the intelligence. The mind is the determination to reach the destination, the senses are the horses, and the sense objects are also included in that activity. Thus one can reach the destination, Vishnu, who is paramam padam, the supreme goal of life. In conditioned life the consciousness in the body is the cause of bondage, but the same consciousness, when transformed into Krishna consciousness, becomes the cause for one's returning home, back to Godhead.
The human body, therefore, may be used in two ways -- for going to the darkest regions of ignorance or for going forward, back home, back to Godhead. To go back to Godhead, the path is mahat-seva, to accept the self-realized spiritual master. Mahat-sevam dvaram ahur  vimukteh [SB 5.5.2]. For liberation, one should accept the direction of authorized devotees who can actually endow one with perfect knowledge. On the other hand, tamo-dvaram yoshitam sangi-sangam: if one wants to go to the darkest regions of material existence, one may continue to associate with persons who are attached to women (yoshitam sangi-sangam). The word yoshit means "woman." Persons who are too materialistic are attached to women. It is said, therefore, atmanam rathinam viddhi sariram ratham eva ca. The body is just like a chariot or car in which one may go anywhere. One may drive well, or else one may drive whimsically, in which case it is quite possible that he may have an accident and fall into a ditch. In other words, if one takes directions from the experienced spiritual master one can go back home, back to Godhead; otherwise, one may return to the cycle of birth and death. Therefore Krishna personally advises: asraddadhanah purusha dharmasyasya parantapa aprapya mam nivartante mrityu-samsara-vartmani -"Those who are not faithful on the path of devotional service cannot attain Me, O conqueror of foes, but return to birth and death in this material world." (Bg. 9.3) The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, personally gives instructions on how one can return home, back to Godhead, but if one does not care to listen to His instructions, the result will be that one will never go back to Godhead, but will continue life in this miserable condition of repeated birth and death in material existence (mrityu-samsara- vartmani).

The advice of experienced transcendentalists, therefore, is that the body be fully engaged for achieving the ultimate goal of life (svartha-gatim). The real interest or goal of life is to return home, back to Godhead. To enable one to fulfill this purpose, there are so many Vedic literatures, including Vedanta-sutra, the Upanishads, Bhagavad-gita, Mahabharata and the Ramayana. One should take lessons from these Vedic literatures and learn how to practice nivritti-marga. Then one's life will be perfect. The body is important as long as it has consciousness. Without consciousness, the body is merely a lump of matter. Therefore, to return home, back to Godhead, one must change his consciousness from material consciousness to Krishna consciousness. One's consciousness is the cause of material bondage, but if this consciousness is purified by bhakti-yoga, one can then understand the falsity of his upadhi, his designations as Indian, American, Hindu, Muslim, Christian and so on. Sarvopadhi-vinirmuktam tat-paratvena nirmalam [Cc. Madhya 19.170]. One must forget these designations and use this consciousness only for the service of Krishna. Therefore if one takes advantage of the Krishna consciousness movement, his life is certainly successful."

Monday, 4 November 2013

An Hour in the Day of Brahma

Do you know, a day on the Moon lasts 29.5 of our Earth days? In other words, if you were standing on the surface of the Moon, it would take 29.5 days for the Sun to move entirely through the sky and return to its original position. Really, then what would be the day on Jupiter, Venus, Saturn and on the Stars and far beyond the stars?

One day, a King called Kakudmi, taking his daughter Revati went to Lord Brahma to inquire about a suitable husband for her.At that time, Lord Brahma was busy and engaged in hearing of musical performance by the celestial beings.The king waitied for about an hour i, e till the performance is over and submitted his desire and requested the Lord to make a suitable match.
Hearing this, the Lord laughed loudly and said to King "O King, all those whom you may have decided within the core of your heart to accept as your son-in-law have passed away in the course of time.Twenty-seven catur-yugas have already passed. Those upon whom you may have decided are now gone, and so are their sons, grandsons and other descendants. You cannot even hear about their names."(During Lord Brahmā's day, fourteen Manus or one thousand maha-yugas pass away. Brahma informed King Kakudmī that twenty-seven maha- yugas, each consisting of the four periods Satya, Treta, Dvāpara and Kali, had already passed. All the kings and other great personalities born in those yugas had now departed from memory into obscurity. This is the way of time as it moves through past,present and future.) 
In Bhagavad-gita 8.17, Lord Krishna Says :
                                                   ahar yad brahmano viduh
                                                   ratrim yuga-sahasrantam
                                                   te 'ho-ratra-vido janah
Translation & Purport by His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupad,
By human calculation, a thousand ages taken together form the duration of Brahma's one day. And such also is the duration of his night.
The duration of the material universe is limited. It is manifested in cycles of kalpas. A kalpa is a day of Brahma, and one day of Brahma consists of a thousand cycles of four yugas, or ages: Satya, Treta, Dvapara and Kali. The cycle of Satya is characterized by virtue, wisdom and religion, there being practically no ignorance and vice, and the yuga lasts 1,728,000 years. In the Treta-yuga vice is introduced, and this yuga lasts 1,296,000 years. In the Dvapara-yuga there is an even greater decline in virtue and religion, vice increasing, and this yuga lasts 864,000 years. And finally in Kali-yuga (the yuga we have now been experiencing over the past 5,000 years) there is an abundance of strife, ignorance, irreligion and vice, true virtue being practically nonexistent, and this yuga lasts 432,000 years. In Kali-yuga vice increases to such a point that at the termination of the yuga the Supreme Lord Himself appears as the Kalki avatara, vanquishes the demons, saves His devotees, and commences another Satya-yuga. Then the process is set rolling again. These four yugas, rotating a thousand times, comprise one day of Brahma, and the same number comprise one night. Brahma lives one hundred of such "years" and then dies. These "hundred years" by earth calculations total to 311 trillion and 40 billion earth years. By these calculations the life of Brahma seems fantastic and interminable, but from the viewpoint of eternity it is as brief as a lightning flash. In the Causal Ocean there are innumerable Brahmas rising and disappearing like bubbles in the Atlantic. Brahma and his creation are all part of the material universe, and therefore they are in constant flux.
In the material universe not even Brahma is free from the process of birth, old age, disease and death. Brahma, however, is directly engaged in the service of the Supreme Lord in the management of this universe -- therefore he at once attains liberation. Elevated sannyasis are promoted to Brahma's particular planet, Brahmaloka, which is the highest planet in the material universe and which survives all the heavenly planets in the upper strata of the planetary system, but in due course Brahma and all the inhabitants of Brahmaloka are subject to death, according to the law of material nature."
Sounds, a little bit complicated. Isn't It.?(By the way, I had a quick look on Google about the age of the universe as per today's scientists and it is 13.82 billion years old.)
                   This is the calculation for one universe, and there are innumerable universes.
The manvantara incarnation chastises all the miscreant rulers of different planets and disseminates the transcendental glories of the Lord. Manu creates scriptural regulations for the salvation of the conditioned souls, who come to the material world for material enjoyment. The Lord is so kind that any soul who wants to enjoy in this material world is given full facility for enjoyment, and at the same time he is shown the path of salvation. The Manus compiled the Manu-samhita. The word samhita means Vedic knowledge, and manu indicates that this knowledge is given by Manu.
(To lighten-up things a bit, I have inserted few pictures from my last trip to Queensland.)

Friday, 1 November 2013

Diwali - Festival of Lights

I went to Melbourne Airport to drop off my wife and kids, visiting India for a holiday and noticed this. Diwali being celebrated in the Airport with idols of Lakshmiji and Ganeshji being worshiped Lakshmi is to bestow wealth and prosperity and Ganesh to remove any obstacles.Hmm..

Diwali is called as festival of lights and is celebrated through out India to signify the triumph of good over evil. People, light up lamps in their houses and fire crackers to set up the jubilant mood.

It is said that, tradition of celebrating Diwali started from the times of yore when,
1. Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya after the winning the war with Ravana

2. Satyabhama - the wife of Lord Krishna killed a fierce demon called Narakasura.

As a kid, I have these sweet memories of festival, where there used to be temporary shops of fire crackers setup in front of my house and, it is my daily routine to visit the shop and buy some fire crackers with whatever pocket money my father would give. And, a day before the festival, I would go along with my father to one of the shops and make a big buy of various items like, flower pots, the electric crackers, the popular ground wheel (commonly called as charka), the high flying rockets, the favourite sparklers and of course the explosive and ear deafening bombs. Well, I had some interesting experiences with these fire-crackers. When I was about 11 years, I lighted up a chakra, holding it in my hand with the help of a twisted thin metal wire and the Chakra which is supposed to be spinning in the air making circles of light actually blew in my face. Nothing serious happened, but for about 10 minutes I was seeing everything pink, including the moon in the sky. I washed my face and eyes with water and was alright. Another incident when, a double shot bomb landed on my brother's thigh and made a lasting mark there. So, be careful while playing with fire crackers.

Talking about light, here is a nice verse from the Vedic litrature (Brhadaranyaka Upanishad),
Asato ma sadgamaya
tamaso ma jyotirgamaya
mrtyorma amrtam gamaya
Om Shanti..Shanti..Shanti..
Lead me from ignorance to the truth.
Lead me from darkness to light.
Lead me from death to immortality

Om Peace, Peace, Peace.