Goal for 2013 - 50,000 + books!

Last Update: Jan 31, 2013

Friday, December 24, 2010

Marathon - Daily Update & Inspiration

"Rise and Shine! Santa Clause has personally employed you to distribute presents from the spiritual world today - books, prasad candies, smiles and happiness. Join the sankirtan party at the Dufferin Mall TODAY at 12 noon till about 4pm! Yummy prasad served afterwards"

With unwaivering enthusiasm several devotees continue to head out everyday in spite of the extreme cold! Yesterday a team of about 8 young devotees (who are offschool or work now) went out to Yonge and Eglinton (which we only later found out is the coldest area in the city because of the windtunnel effect!!!)They distributed several books and befriended manymore people.

Today is the last day of big-pre-christmas shopping and we will besetting up our sankirtan party outside the Dufferin Mall at Bloor andDufferin from 12 till whenever we can. And delicious warm prasadamwill be served afterwards.

Our scores as of the eod yesterday were 4316 books! We only have 8more days and we need 684 books!Do you think we will meet/beat ourgoals? Please join in...the final leg of the marathon has started! Weneed ALL your help, prayers and blessings.

Looking forward to serving Srila Prabhupada with you!

Inspiration for the dayThis is an example in preaching. Āpani ācari' bhakti śikhāimu sabāre.Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu teaches us that those whom preachers meet arealmost all offenders who are opposed to Krsna consciousness, but itis a preacher's duty to convince them of the Krsna consciousnessmovement and then induce them to chant the Hare Krsna mahā-mantra.Our propagation of the sańkīrtana movement is continuing, despite manyopponents, and people are taking up this chanting process even inremote parts of the world like Africa. By inducing the offenders tochant the Hare Krsna mantra, Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu exemplifiedthe success of the Krsna consciousness movement. We should followvery respectfully in the footsteps of Lord Caitanya, and there is nodoubt that we shall be successful in our attempts.CC Adi 7.150

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Change of Heart - The Magic Works

Submitted by Mangal Aarti dd

A few months ago I had met an old Indian man on Sankirtan and he was very edgy. We talked for a while but he would not come near the books. He went on and on about how he was Indian etc etc...so i was almost trying to get out of the conversation but Lord Caitanya had a different plan. The next day I had met him again at Avenue and Bloor and this time he was a tiny bit more receptive to talking with me about serious stuff. So he said he thinks he may have a Bhagavad gita at home but I insisted and said you may not have - so he did take it and gave me laxmi. But he was still stuck up about his Indian -Hindu stuff. Today months later i met him but he was completely different. First he stopped and he was just laughing and almost dancing. I could not understand what had happened to him. I asked him did he ever read the Gita or go to temple. Turns out he did both. He went to temple 3 times and already donated 300 dollars there - including the roof reconstruction project. I tried to ask him to come for MSF and he already knew about the marathon. He was talking about Krishna as 'Gopinath' referring so personally, just glorifying prasadam and how he is not allowed sweets but he loves the kheer. This man had changed completely - he was no longer the same man who i had met. Association with Srila Prabhupada's books had completely transformed him and all he could talk about was dancing in Kirtan and said he would come to temple for Vaisesika prabhu's program.

Basket Ball

Submitted by - Mangal Aarti dd

I was really struggling at the corner of avenue and bloor, no one was stopping and it was cold. I thought I guess I prayed too much to lord Caitanya for a taste of sankirtan and now He was going to make me stand there and not stop anyone. So i decided to just try to accept - time to practice what i had heard. Try to please lord Caitanya :)

I started to chant and this really tall tall man with a NBA Sweatshirt came along. I thought he wouldn't stop or even see me but did. First I handed him a tiny book and showed him a picture of Srila Prabhupada. He said he would take it. Then somehow I asked him if he was interested in ancient history and as soon as he looked interested I handed him the Bhagavad gita. He dived right into it. I showed him Sanskrit mantras, he tried and then just asked me how much for the book. I told him whatever he would like to give and he handed me a lot of laxmi for the books. I asked him if he was around for a while and he said he was playing today and leaving the next day back to US.

This is the time I started to put his over TALL hieght and lots of money and game together - i asked him to write to me and gave him a card. I am very ignorant and have no idea about what game he plays or who he is - but perhaps one day, he will take to Krishna Consciousness!

Friday, December 3, 2010


Tomorrow (Sat Dec 4) is our 1st Weekend Warrior Festival, and there is more than one way in which you can participate! Our weekend will kick-off with a special bhagavatam class at 7:45am. This is the first of a 4-part saturday series to inspire the sankirtan spirit and equip us with the practical tools to share our great spiritual wealth.

In addition, here's how you can participate:-

1. Weekend Sankirtan Festival - Sat Dec 4th (11am - 2pm)Join us as we head out on the streets to share the holy names, prasad and spiritual books!

2. 24 Hour Kirtan - 4pm (sat Dec4th) to 4pm (sun Dec 5th)A team of enthusiastic volunteers will be setting up a display table at the 24 hour kirtan being organized in Missisauga, to share these wonderful spiritual books with the attendees of the festival! We specifically need volunteers to help man the table on sunday. If you are interested and available please contact us ASAP

3. Marathon Special Sunday FeastHelp us with our Sunday Feast displays, distribute books yourself, encourage others to do so, inspire your fellow sankirtaneers and support their endeavors by sponsoring books for distribution!

We look forward to serving with you in this glorious festival - Srila Prabhupada Marathon 2010 ki Jai!

In your service,
Toronto Sankirtan Team

"Human life is not for working hard for bodily maintenance, but for reawakening our eternal relationship with the Lord and then going back to Godhead. All this can be achieved by acts of divine sacrifice. The best sacrifice is to please the pure devotee. Fortunately for us, we¹ve been given that chance. Srila Prabhupada has left us with as much service as we like if we like. It is entirely up to us.Let us be bold in his service. Think big. Don't hold back. Go Go Go!" Vaisesika Prabhu

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Prakriti sthani karshati...

Submitted by Mangal Aarti dd

I met Zzenie with her friend Luke at the Sunday feast about 2 years ago and it was her first time there. Later she came to a home program we did with HH Bhakti Brhad bhagvat maharaj. While she was listening, she was very young and lost in her youth. A few days ago I realised the power of association of pure devotees and the power of Prabhupada marathon in connecting lost souls when i met her. I walking through a very quiet parking lot trying to find someone to show a book when I saw her once again.It had been 2 years but she had aged so much, her face showed it and she told me she was leaving Toronto and moving back to Jordan in two weeks. I asked her what happened and even though she didn't reply in detail, she was visibly in pain. She said she could not take it anymore and needed a break. So this time I showed her the Bhagavad gita and asked her to read it while she is away as it would give her strength. She agreed to take it with her and gave a donation. It took her two years to come to this point and i was thinking how Krishna attracts everyone, once you come in contact with Srila Prabhupada, you are always in his shelter. Irrespective of rebellious nature of living entity, He catches you when you may think all is gone.
Bhagavad-gita (15.7):
mamaivamso jiva-loke, jiva-bhutah sanatanahmanah shashthanindriyani,prakriti-sthani karshati
"The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal, fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind."There is a great struggle for existence because the living entity conditioned by material nature is under nature's full control (prakriteh kriyamanani gunaih karmani sarvasah [Bg. 3.27]). Because of his limited knowledge, however, the living entity thinks he is enjoying in this material world. Manah shashthanindriyani prakriti-sthani karshati [Bg. 15.7]. He is actually under the full control of material nature, but still he thinks himself independent (ahankara-vimudhatma kartaham iti manyate [Bg. 3.27]).

Transcendental Samadhi

It is an opportunity for us to experience what samadhi is. Being absorbed in one activity, that activity being absorbed in giving Krishna to others and feel fortunate making them Krishna conscious. The difficulties that come along with that, the challenges we face in terms of weather, in terms of people's receptivity, in terms of officials perhaps not wanting us to be distributing on the street or shopping centre or wherever and what to seak about the obstacles that our mind poses. This is all what is required to become these things -to overcome these and become a real Vaishnav, to enter into Samadhis. Bhajanandis have to overcome all of these challenges in some other form, we face them in this way and when we practice doing so we become practiced in meditating on Krishna, being absorbed in Krishna. Srila Prabhuapda describes first class devotee in terms of someone who is always thinking in terms of spreading KC,someone who is absorbed in Krishna's pastimes and name. Purity of heart that is required for both is same, only difference is one is enjoying Krishna consciousness and other is giving Krishna consciousness. And this mood of giving Krishna consciousness is the mood of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu... Prabhupada marathon is a wonderful opportunity for us to be absorbed in what prabhupada calls transcendental samadhi in 10th canto. HH Sivarama SwamiNectar of Book Distribution

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Necessity of Life

Certainly during those days, it was our center; it was our focus. At least for myself and for many other devotees in our society, there is no doubt that we felt pushed in so many ways with the need to distribute Srila Prabhupada’s books. It became the ultimate necessity of our lives to see that his books were being distributed.
There is an expression I often think of, namely “necessity of life.” We often tend to think that the meaning of necessity of life is something that sustains life in the body. We often think necessity of life to be food or shelter or maybe air. Water and air are necessities of life. They are necessities that sustain life in the body. But life is eternal, and Srila Prabhupada would often use this term, “necessity of life.” If life is eternal, if life exists outside and beyond the body, then what is the real necessity of life? Life also has a necessity, even without a material body.
Srila Prabhupada would say that this preaching, this book distribution, gave him life. Srila Prabhupada showed by his own example that this is what sustained his life and what continues to sustain his life. It is what he was so much absorbed in. It was his mission to give us this transcendental wisdom in the form of Srimad Bhagavatam and Caitanya Caritamrita, and to study these books ourselves, and by realizing the contents of these books, to go out and make others similarly fortunate to appreciate the great value of Srila Prabhupada’s books. This is life.
If we ask how to actually realize what is our necessity, how do we live, how we can be successful, what is real life, the answer is in preaching and spreading the message of Krsna Consciousness.
His Holiness Niranjana Swami

Devotees are going out everyday, Yajna Gauranga Prabhu, Gaura Candra Prabhu, Mangal Aarti dd, Milind Prabhu and many many more. Please inspire them, encourage them...join the gang. Also if you would like to share any sankirtan experiences please send them our way. Check www.torontosankirtan.blogspot.com for more sankirtan nectar!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Prabhupada on Yonge Street

Submitted by Mangal Aari dd

There was a slight drizzle and I was really praying to somehow be able to render some service to Prabhupada and someway deepen my relationship. Wondering how it would happen I was standing outside UrbanEdge Yoga, when this man came from the internet cafe next door. I tried to speak with him but he was so extremely distressed, and just told me he was very very upset. He looked like he was choking. Upon asking, he said he was in love with a woman and she would not have him. He was so shaken up and depressed by it. I asked him why - what happened. He said she didnt think he had enough money and he really didnt care about it but the woman would not be with him. I tried to explain to him how this was the way of the material world and we talked a little about nature of men and women. He said he was afraid she would find someone else and I said she will find someone regardless if she has to. (Just this morning i was reading 4th canto of Srimad Bhagavatam where narada muni narrates the story of king Puranjana and how he loses his lifespan following his wife and senses and now I was getting a practical example) I showed him a perfection of yoga and asked him to read it. Initially he said he was too fragile and needed a job and couldnt read. then I showed a picture of Srila Prabhupada and recognizing the picture he said he had met him. As he didnt look old enough, I said it wasnt him, you must have met some of his students, he insisted he had seen Prabhupada on Yonge street. I couldnt figure out what he was talking about so we went back and forth until he said he had seen prabhupada at the parade and thats when i realised he had seen Srila prabhupada's diety and now Prabhupada got him here. I told him it was a sign and he took the book for a donation. He told me he was feeling better already and he started to thank me. I asked him if i could teach him a one word mantra - and he learnt to say Gauranga. He asked what it meant and i said it meant 'be happy'...he chanted Gauranga 3 times smiling and shaking hands and while leaving told me he was feeling much better. Srila Prabhupada is personally driving his marathon, we just have to be there.

4.27.6 The great sage Nārada then addressed King Prācīnabarhiṣat: O one whose life-span is great [virāṭ], in this way King Purañjana begot 1,100 sons within the womb of his wife, Purañjanī. However, in this business he passed away half of his life-span.

Purport 4.27.13 As the sun rises and sets, it snatches away the balance of our life-span. Thus as each day passes, each one of us loses some of life's duration. It is therefore said that the duration of one's life cannot be saved. But if one is engaged in devotional service, his time cannot be taken away by the sun. As stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (2.3.17), āyur harati vai puḿsām udyann astaḿ ca yann asau. The conclusion is that if one wants to make himself immortal, he should give up sense gratification. By engaging oneself in devotional service, one can gradually enter into the eternal kingdom of God.

Nov 30 - Quote of the Day

"Now is the sankirtan marathon, we are not doing it simply for our own glorification.our eagerness should be to please Lord Chaitanya and Nityananda by presenting their teachings to as many people as possible.if someone is ambitious for distinction then sooner or later they will become disinterested. Because there will always be someone who is more expert or better preacher.But if our goal is the pleasure of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu then we will never give up sankirtan because we will always be able to please the lord with our effort. Devotee with the proper motivation in sankirtan always feels both direct reciprocation from the Lord. So its seen directly that sankirtan is the most confidential service of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Lord Chaitanya is always giving the sankirtan devotees realizations of the teachings of Srimad Bhagwatam " HH Tamal Krsna Maharaj

Nov 29 - Quote of the Day

Srila Prabhupada SB 1.1.16 lecture
"There is no comparison. There is no competition. Every word is for the good of the human society. Every word, each and every word. Therefore we stress so much in the book distribution. Somehow or other, if the book goes in one hand, he will be benefited. At least he will see, "Oh, they have taken so much price. Let me see what is there." If he reads one sloka, his life will be successful. If one sloka, one word. This is such nice things. Therefore we are stressing so much, "Please distribute book, distribute book, distribute book." A greater mrdanga. We are chanting, playing our mrdanga. It is heard within this room or little more. But this mrdanga will go home to home, country to country, community to community, this mrdanga"

CC Madhya 4.79
If the preachers in our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement are sincere devotees of Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa will always be with them because He is very kind and favorable to all His devotees. Just as Arjuna and Kṛṣṇa were victorious in the Battle of Kurukṣetra, this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement will surely emerge victorious if we but remain sincere devotees of the Lord and serve the Lord according to the advice of the predecessors

Nov 28 - Quote for the Day

Not considering who asked for it and who did not, nor who was fit and who unfit to receive it, Caitanya Mahāprabhu distributed the fruit of devotional service. CC Adi 9.29
"I am the only gardener. How many places can I go? How many fruits can I pick and distribute?" CC Adi 9.34
"Therefore I order every man within this universe to accept this
Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement and distribute it everywhere." CC Adi 9.36
Excerpts from Purports
This is the sum and substance of Lord Caitanya's sańkīrtana movement. There is no distinction made between those who are fit and those who are not fit to hear or take part in the sańkīrtana movement. It should therefore be preached without discrimination. The only purpose of the preachers of the sańkīrtana movement must be to go on preaching without restriction. That is the way in which Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu introduced this sańkīrtana movement to the world
Here Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu indicates that the distribution of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra should be performed by combined forces. Although He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, He laments, "How can I act alone? How can I alone pick the fruit and distribute it all over the world?" This indicates that all classes of devotees should combine to distribute the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra without consideration of the time, place or situation.

Marathon - Daily Update & Inspiration

Today Nov 27th marked the launch of Prabhupada Marathon 2010. The goal for this year is 5000 books. For the pleasure of Srila Prabhupada, at today's Monthly Sankirtan Festival, about 20 devotees distributed 75 books at two locations (Bloor & Spadina and Yonge & Finch) for a total of 211 Laxmi points. The mercy of Lord Caitanya manifested as the shining sun miraculously appeared just before the start of the MSF. Additionally, we received our first Sastra Dana commitment of 100 BGs for hotels in Burlington Area.

As a practice for the Marathon, these daily updates will include an inspirational quote on Sankirtan for your pleasure.
Preaching Caitanya Mahāprabhu's cult throughout the world is more important than staying in Vṛndāvana or Jagannātha Purī for one's own personal satisfaction. Spreading Kṛṣṇa consciousness is Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu's mission; therefore His sincere devotees must carry out His desire.
pṛthivīte āche yata nagarādi grāma sarvatra pracāra haibe mora nāma
The devotees of Lord Caitanya must preach Kṛṣṇa consciousness in every village and town in the world. That will satisfy the Lord. It is not that one should act whimsically for his own personal satisfaction. This order comes down through the paramparā system, and the spiritual master presents these orders to the disciple so that he can spread the message of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. It is the duty of every disciple to carry out the order of the bona fide spiritual master and spread Lord Caitanya's message all over the world
CC Madhya 16.64

Prabhupada Marathon - 2010

Are You Ready?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fearless - Bhayam dvitiya aniveshita

Submitted by Mangal Arti dd

I met this nice Russian lady, perhaps middle aged. She didn't seem the yoga kinds but surely looked distressed. I showed her a Perfection of Yoga (POY) and explained about yoga, meditation and how it helps with relaxation. Sensing some stress, I asked her if she was stressed in life. While giving donation for the book she explained how her son was killing her. I asked her if he was a teenager and she explained he was just caught smoking marijuana, and that he lied about going to school but really was just taking marijuana. She was very distressed and was fearful of what he would do next.

I opened the Bhagavad gita and showed her what Krishna says about material world being a place of fear. And she immediately acknowledged saying yes she feels afraid all the time. She is afraid her ex-husband will loose his job and she wont get child support, Or she will loose her job or worse even she will loose her son - No relief.

Having appreciated the philosophy she left with a book. I realized how amongst millions of other things, we are thankful to Srila Prabhupada for granting us fearlessness through his books in this world. All fear is due to 'bhayam dvitya aniveshita' and through the lamp of knowledge Srila prabhuapda destroys it.

SB 11.2.37 : Fear arises when a living entity misidentifies himself as the material body because of absorption in the external, illusory energy of the Lord. When the living entity thus turns away from the Supreme Lord, he also forgets his own constitutional position as a servant of the Lord.

Purport : According to Srila Sridhara Svami the objection may be raised that since fear is caused by ignorance, it can be dispelled by knowledge and there is no need to worship the Supreme Lord. The living entity falsely identifies with his material body, family, society and so on, and he simply has to give up this false identification.

SB 1.11.3 : Out of the four problems of material existence, namely the food problem, the shelter problem, the fear problem and the mating problem, the fear problem gives us more trouble than the others. We are always fearful due to our ignorance of the next problem. The whole material existence is full of problems, and thus the fear problem is always prominent. This is due to our association with the illusory energy of the Lord, known as mäyä or external energy, yet all fear is vanished as soon as there is the sound of the Lord, represented by His holy name, as it was sounded by Lord Sri Caitanya Mahäprabhu in the following sixteen words:Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare HareHare Räma, Hare Räma, Räma Räma, Hare Hare

We can take advantage of these sounds and be free from all threatening problems of material existence.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Why not just be there?

This last MSF (Monthly Sankirtan Festival) was a little magical. I met several people who by themselves just wanted the books...I did not have to go much beyond, "Hi, are you interested in yoga", and they would just get attracted to these windows of the spiritual world!

I remember one such girl I met, she very eagerly took several books with her and gave a more than kind donation. Afterwards I wrote back to her, and her reply completely convinced me of how we just need to be there! So many people around the world are searching for Krishna...and Krishna will arrange for them to come in contact with Him. If we're standing on the way, we may get the credit...so why not just be there!

Hi Shyama! Yes I've been looking at them. I especially like the The Perfection of Yoga book. I think I may have to read it a couple times to make sure I understand the message properly though. Thank you very much for introducing me to them. I also checked out the Urban Edge Yoga website. I think I may sign up for a meditation class soon. It's funny. The night before I met you I was telling my boyfriend that I wanted to learn more about yoga. I was feeling pretty frustrated with, you know, life, goals and decisions...and I felt like I needed to do something to help me shake off the self-destructive negative moods I sometimes get in. And then the next day, there you guys are. When I told him that I met you he smiled and told me that our minds are powerful and I should be mindful of what I focus my thoughts on because I may attract it to me. lol. In this case, I am very happy to meet you and hope to see you again soon.

Almost there...

It's been an eventful 2 weeks, 15 action-packed days! What started off as a "whim" of the excited mind, and materialized as the "Maha-mantra week" has been an ecstatic experience to say the least.

Today, the 12 hour kirtan marks the Grand-Finale of the celebrations. We're almost there, 2 more hours to go... and it does feel like an incredible journey with the holy name. And in this journey, we've witnessed inspiration, determination, dedication and the effort required to create this experience!

In spite of the extremely short notice, Jatin Bhandari (aka Jetu), our kirtan star arranged for an exciting lineup kirtaneers for the whole day. With his fellows in the "Sri Sri Radha Govinda Kirtan Mandali", Jetu setup the altar and accompanying instruments. Moreover, whoever was chanting, Jetu and Satyananda accompanied them as backup vocals, instrumentalists and cheer leaders. The deep love for the holy name was reflected loud and clear in the sincere chanting of the kirtaneers.

The theme today has been chanting at the time of death, we read about it this morning from Sri Namamrta, and we heard in the bhagavatam class about Srila Prabhupada's final instruction. The time of death is the real test, whether we'll remember Krsna or not...but who knows when death will knock, we're all almost there!

Krishna tracks, attracts and connects

Submitted by - Mangal Arti dd

I had a few minutes before the session at Urban Edge Yoga started and i stepped downstairs. I was trying to talk to this guy on a bike when a girl passing by asked me about our centre and said she was searching us on the internet. I told her to hold on for a few seconds and she actually waited. She was with a very kind looking man and somehow or other they waited. They were almost leaving when I caught a minute to talk to them - turns out the girl Heather was going to our temple in Miami coconut grove and used to take prasad there and even Warren was going to temple in Venice beach California. I invited them both upstairs to Urban Edge Yoga. Very kindly they agreed, I showed them the Bhagavad gita and as they were leaving I requested them a few minutes to make an offering..they sat on the couch. I started to talk to them and they told me their stories how they were both addicts and joined the AA group ... both were recovering addicts. She was born in LA and grew up in Toronto and went back to Miami where she met devotees. He was born in Toronto and moved to LA where he lived close to venice beach and ate at the temple sometimes and liked the Krishnas. They didnt have the Bhagavad gita but they had seen Srila Prabhupada's picture. She was an actress in TV commercials and then just walked away from everything due to her addictions. They took the Bhagavad Gita and said they will come back. He was very interested in Gita and she was in cooking. They took the dessert cup as they left and i was just wondering it happened - this amazing couple crossing countries to meet Krishnas, the night before they were searching on internet for us ...i was cooking upstairs and came down for few minutes and they stopped at the very minute - Krishna really attracts!

Now I know why we came here!

The ecstacy of the Beatles Festival in Orillia was ruling over the assembled devotees. Smiles, singing and dancing dominated the scene. When we took a break for prasad, I was serving to ensure we had enough prasad. Suddenly, I saw a little girl staring at some of our books. I went up to her and offered her a cookie. Surprisingly she denied saying I dont really like cookies. To this cute comment her mother and I struck a conversation. Soon I showed her the Chant and Be Happy book. As soon as she saw the book, she had goosebumps! This was the first time I had seen someone feel such power. Immediately I introduced her to the concept of chanting, and showed her some beads...which she eagerly accepted. We took a picture together with the beatles background of "Chant & Be Happy". As we exchanged emails she told me that they were from Missisauga travelling to Hunstville and just stopped here for gas...she exclaimed "Now I know why we came here". We parted to stay in touch...as very good friends would!

The "Unknown" Connection

Submitted by Mangal-arti dd

As I was coming out of the subway I saw this girl walk into the subway and she clearly caught my attention but I had just finished speaking with someone else and did not have a chance to take out any books or cards. My hands were empty, I regretted in my heart but she registered. I had to run from Bedford to St george and only had a few minutes…I stopped around the corner when I saw a man with his baby and he bought a small Bhagavad Gita, which was probably another 2-3 minute conversation. After this, I continued my sprint to St George. While running, something from within the heart made me stop and turn around. Much to my surprise I saw the same girl who had caught my eye near the subway and she was outside the subway that too near me. I knew Krishna had sent her back and I didn’t even bother with the formalities – I just looked at her and said " hey I just saw you a few minutes back entering the subway and I really wanted to give you a card but it was in my bag and now you are here". She actually took out her headphones and smiled to talk. I just handed her the Bhagavad gita – and before I could say anything about yoga and meditation – she said with great surprise – "wow Bhagavad gita". I was so surprised – I told her ‘don’t tell me you were looking for this as that would just be too much’. She said she had just done a course on religion at UofT where they mentioned the Bhagavad gita and she thought it was interesting and wanted it. I told her how I wanted to give it to her but we missed each other a few minutes back so this is divine intervention. I showed her some mantras, purport and Srila Prabhupada and told her to get it for a donation. She didn’t have money as she just bought a text book. I requested her to look into her wallet and give whatever she had. Somehow she listened and pulled out some laxmi to her own surprise. I asked her to come for Bhagavad GIta discussions and that we have dinner after. She asked me if it was vegan and I told her our centre was vegan and I was just totally taken aback by now because she was also looking for vegan people. We exchanged emails and as I was leaving she told me how she forgot something and had to come out of the subway in this direction as if we were just pulled towards each other by someone. I told her my real estate friend was waiting and I had to run and as I was running she called out – please email me.

We actually don’t sell these books, we just have the great honour of being in association of these books for a few minutes. It is our life’s greatest gift to be in association of guru parmapara

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Daily Conference Calls & Japathon going strong!

At the Hare Krsna Temple in Toronto, we're celebrating the MahaMantra Week to mark Srila Prabhupada's arrival in the west 45 years ago. 15 days of festivities are marked with harinams, sankirtan outings, double-decker harinam, 64+ round days, movie nights and more.

This past weekend Beatles Festival Sankirtan in Orillia was a great event to say the least! Over 45 devotees participated in bringing the holy names and Srila Prabhupada's books to the small town on Orillia. Everyone attending the festival was truly enthralled and left eagerly awaiting for next year. More details coming up soon!

As the week rolls by, our Japathon challenge of chanting 45,000 rounds collectively is on strong and steady we're only at 8,500 and we need you to chant and log in! This is a special offering to Srila Prabhupada to commemorate 45 years of the "Hare Krsna Culture". Visit www.torontokrishna.com to log your rounds.

Also start your mornings with special conference call readings on Sri Namamrta - The Nectar of the holy name. Every day we read for 10 min from 7:15-7:25 am, on the transcendental effects of chanting Hare Krsna and the propagation of the holy name. Join in by calling the toll free line 1-800-617-7801; Conference code: 6833446
(You don't need a security pin. Please press 1 after entering the Conference code)

Chant and Be Happy!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Maha-Mantra Week Sep 17- Oct 2

15 days of constant celebration.
1. An amazing opportunity to learn more about the glories of chanting "Hare Krsna"
2. Your crash course to know more about the person who built the house in which the whole world can live - Srila Prabhupada!
3. A golden chance to render as much service as you like. if you like!
Click on the poster for details!

Starting this Friday, Sep 17th, ISKCON centres all over the world will celebrate the arrival of Srila Prabhupada in the West 45 years ago, the day that changed the life trajectory of millions all over the globe. The celebrations this year in ISKCON Toronto will be marked by 15 days of non-stop activity. We encourage you to make the most of this occassion, participate in the numerous activities, help organize them and most importantly - spread the word around!
Please see below for a day-wise schedule (followed by an activity-wise description at the end).
Also, check www.torontokrishna.com (coming soon) and www.torontosankirtan.blogspot.com for regular updates.
Daily Highlights:-
Morning Conference Call readings from Sri Namamrta (7:15-7:25am)
Japathon challenge to chant 45,000 rounds collectively
Week 1 (Sep 17th Fri to Sep 23rd Thu)
Sep 17th (Fri) - Downtown Street Harinam (6:30-8pm)
Sep 18th (Sat) - Sankirtan in Orillia (Beatles Festival) (9am-6pm) ** Pre-Registration Required
Sep 19th (Sun) - 64+ Rounds Day (4am onwards)
Sep 20th, 21st, 22nd (Mon, Tue, Wed) - Japa-volunteer at the temple
Sep 23rd (Thu) - Srila Prabhupada Movie night (7-9pm) with popcorn and juice!
Week 2 (Sep 24th Fri to Oct 2nd Sat)
Sep 24th (Fri) - Downtown Street Harinam (6:30-8pm)
Sep 25th (Sat) - Monthly Sankirtan Festival (9am-2pm)
Double Decker Bus Harinam (4-8pm) ** Pre-Registration Required (first come, first serve basis)
Sep 26th (Sun) - 64+ Rounds Day (4am onwards)
Sep 27th, 28th, 29th (Mon, Tue, Wed) - Japa-volunteer at temple (6-8:30pm)
Sep 30th (Thu) - Srila Prabhupada Movie night (7-9pm) with popcorn and juice!
Oct 1st (Fri) - Downtown Street Harinam (6:30-8pm)
Oct 2nd (Sat) - Grand-Finale - 12 Hour Kirtan (9am-9pm)
Activity-wise Details
1. Morning Conference Call Readings - Every morning from Sep 17th to Oct 2nd, we will read for 10 minutes from Sri Namamrta (the book of the month) about the glories of the Holy Name. The perfect meditation to kick-start your day! Details to be available closer to the date.
2. Japathon Challenge - During the celebration weeks, chant your rounds for the Japathon Challenge. Log on to our online japathon monitor (coming soon on the www.torontokrishna.com) and enter the number of rounds you've chanted daily! Our collective target is to chant 45,000 rounds to celebrate the arrival of Srila Prabhupada in the West 45 years ago.
3. Downtown Street Harinam - Taking the holy name out in the streets of Yorkville for the 3 Fridays (Sep 17, 24 and Oct 1), join Lord Gauranga's Harinama Party led by Dhira Grahi Das and participate in the most blissful Friday Fun!
4. Orillia Sankirtan (Beatles Festival)- Every summer, 1000s of beatles fan come to the small city of Orillia to celebrate the legendary musicians. This year the Toronto Sankirtan Team has the golden opportunity to go and share the holy names, books and prasad magic through a small booth at the festival site. Please join us for this special Sankirtan Festival. Pre-Registration is Required to arrange logistics.
5. 64+ Rounds Day - Starting at Mangal Aarti (4am), chant 64+ rounds with other fellow devotees and experience the bliss of the nectar of the holy name! Your direct contribution to the 45,000 rounds Japathon!
6. Srila Prabhupada Movie Night - Thursday night, movies on the life of Srila Prabhupada with Popcorn and Juice!
Week 1 (Sep 23rd) - A Lifetime in Preparation
Week 2 (Sep 30th) - Krsna Balaram Installation (Following Srila Prabhupada)
7. 16th Monthly Sankirtan Festival - Join in for the extra special MSF! Let's go out to share the holy name, prasad and Srila Prabhupada's books with the passersby!
8. Double-Decker Bus Harinam - Like last year, we've chartered a Double-decker sight seeing bus, for a 4-hour tour of the city! Tour the city of Toronto, chanting your way to glory in the association of devotees. Seats are limited so please reply to this email for registration details. For last year's experience, please visit:- http://iskcontoronto.blogspot.com/2009/09/double-decker-harinama-hits-toronto.html
9. Japa Volunteer - Every weekday, we plan to have a "Japa volunteer" at the temple, greeting new-comers and introducing them to the "Maha-Mantra" and encouraging them to join the celebrations. Volunteers Required!
10. 12 Hour Kirtan - Our Grand-Finale, the 12 hour kirtan, organized by our dear Jittu & company (Jatin Bhandari) does not require any further introduction! Come and experience!
We look forward to seeing you and celebrating the legacy of the "Maha-Mantra" with you!
Please call 416-844-2937 or email us for more details. Please pre-register to reserve your spots where marked.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Vyasa-Puja Offering

Dearest Srila Prabhupada,

Please accept our most humble obeisances. All glories to your divine grace.

Srila Prabhupada, thank you for brigthening millions of lives around the world with nectar drops from the spiritual world - glimpses into Krsna Consciousness through the holy name, divine prasad and your glorious purports. If it were not for you, so many people in the world would never find out what it means to be happy, people would never find homes in every part of the world and most would experience the lack of friends worth giving up lives for.

Prabhupada, you came as an ambassador of goodwill and ushered all this happiness in the lives of insignificant nobodies. By your mercy, we the insiginificant nobodies are also engaged in this highest welfare activity - your sankirtan movement. During the last 16 months several devotees from different walks of life, most of whom had never considered Sankirtan as their potential service, have regularly participated in distributing your magnanimous books and the holy name to the citizens of Toronto through the Monthly Sankirtan Festivals. Since its inception in June 2009, the Toronto Sankirtan Team has distributedabout 11,000 books and 1000's of pieces of prasad.

In addition to the Monthly Sankirtan festivals, this year Srila Prabhupada we launched our Smart Box Project - Challenging and demanding as it is, but it provided venues for book distribution "even while we sleep". Presently there are 20 smart boxes all over the GTA distributing your books through store-tops, restaurants and even a dollarama.

New innovations for your book marathon, the glorious Ratha yatra festival and the book of the month specials has attracted attention of the guests and devotees at home. Through the collective, organized and harmonius way of Sankirtan, and by your infinite mercy, we experience trickle drops of ecstacy - when passersby get captivated to walk right into the doors of your home; when someone who picked up a book from a smart box shows up at a sunday feast and when little Krsna miracles of people finding your books brigthen our days. More importantly Srila Prabhupada, through these various projects we've experienced the bliss of togetherness. Serving together in your glorious Sankirtan movement has never felt so special and rewarding, and the bond between the team is deepening.

Srila Prabhupada, we've just begun our novice attempts, our simple, insignificant service - and we can already experience such ecstacy, we wonder how it would be like to be completely drowned in the nectar of your service in every breathe of our existence.

Srila Prabhupada, we're so grateful to have come in touch with Vaisesika Prabhu, one of your Sankirtan Stalwarts, who has inspired this sprout of love for Sankirtan in our hearts. Vaisesika Prabhu often tells us, that Srila Prabupada has given us lifetimes worth of service, there is as much service as we like if we like. The only limit really is our desire.

Please bless us Srila Prabupada, that in whatever comes, in good times or bad, we remain united and our desires be dovetailed in your service.

Your aspiring servants

Toronto Sankirtan Team

Janamastami - Book Lounge!

An exciting innovation of the Festival Organising Team at ISKCON Toronto, led the Sankirtan Team to a Book Lounge in Govinda's! What followed, was an exciting and very encouraging Sankirtan experience after many years at a festival as packed as Janamastami!

The Book Lounge, setup in the Govinda's along with two other booths (one by ISKCON Cinema and another with Gopidots and Tilaka) had facilities to display books for sale as well as for guests to sit around and read the books available. Our enthusiastic team distributed books way past midnight, our highlights were the special Krsna book sale and also 3 small books for $5.
The Sankirtn Team distributed 35 different titles sold, for a total of 112 books, including 29 Krsna Books (highest count / book) and 1 Krsna Art book for a total collection of $767.25 laxmi points!

15th Monthly Sankirtan Festival - Highlights

August 28th marked the 15th consecutive Monthly Sankirtan Festival of the Toronto Sankirtan Team. Battling the scorching heat, the sankirtan warriors hit the streets at 11am distributing Srila Prabupada’s presents through the specially themed—Festival of Goodwill. Accompanied by constant harinam, the sankirtan team greeted the passersby with prasadam and books signifying the advent of Yoga in the Western world 45 years ago by Srila Prabhupada. 18 devotees participated for 3 hours distributing 40 books for a total of 126 laxmi points.
At another front, under the able leadership of Mathura Gopika devi dasi, the Sankirtan team setup a table displaying Srila Prabhupada’s books in front of a Textile Store in Scarborough from 10am-7pm. Inviting guests to the Janamastami festivities, this team distributed 33 books for a total of 200 laxmi points.

A special innovation this month was the "kiddie packs". Inspired by Vaisesika Prabhu, these kiddie packs were for the kids passing by our Sankirtan Tables. Sing Lung and Kalki led this innovation by making 32 very attractive packs with a Krsna coloring book, non-toxic crayons and some prasadam candy! The Kiddie packs definitely seemed to be doing their bit by attracting the little ones and subsequently the parents followed.

Sri Namamrta - Book of the Month for September

" harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam, kalau nasty eva nasti eva nasti eva gatir anyatha"
- a Sanskrit verse from Brhan-naradiya Purana which means "In this age of Kali, there is no alternative, there is no alternative, there is no alternative for spiritual progress other than the chanting of the holy name, the chanting of the holy name, the chanting of the holy name of the Lord”.
The Book of the month for September is Sri Namamrta —The Nectar of the Holy Name. It is a compilation of inspirational and informational quotes on chanting the holy names, from various books translated and compiled by Srila Prabhupada. This systematic collection of quotes on the importance of chanting is in 4 sections - describing the attributes, effects, practice and propagation of the Holy Name as well as other instructions on chanting. There is also a compilation of songs by Vaisnav Acaryas on the glories of the Holy Name!
Grab your copy from our Sunday Feast Book Table and immerse yourself in meditations of the holy name!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Friend-raising, with all varieties of people

Many weeks ago, on a cold winter evening, as I walked to my usual spot outside Urban Edge Yoga, I saw it was taken already. By a lady named Victoria, who had just started on her little tryst with a cigarette. As I approached and greeted her, she started to get out of the way, thinking I was going to head into the building. So I bade her to stay where she was, but she graciously moved out of the way. I continued talking to her, explaining what I was trying to do. Smokers are great conversation partners, as I've observed before, until that cigarette is finished or their craving subsides, they ain't goin' nowhere. She listened attentively, telling me her daughter was interested in these things. Victoria was interested too, she took a copy of the Bhagavad Gita As It Is and flipped through the pages, looking at the pictures long and hard. I am sure she would've taken the book on another day, seems like she just didn't have any cash. We do need to start accepting credit cards! Then, cigarette having reached end-of-life, Victoria stepped inside Noah's.

The usual parade of the uninterested and otherwise-absorbed continued outside, some people gifted me very nice smiles. We are fortunate to be living in a country and city where most people we meet are very friendly. When we go out on the street, we realize we cannot take it for granted.

A lady passed me by a few times, smiling gently each time. I spoke to her, she didn't respond the first couple of times. Then she stopped and asked me if I was from the 'centre'. I pointed to the board and said, yes, I was. She asked me if anyone could come. "Yes" I replied, and she was happy, said she will come by some day, and was happy that it was open to all. Well, as long as a person isn't being uncivil, and isn't a disturbance to others or ourselves, we don't restrict admission.

Tut stopped by, I almost grabbed him in conversation. A student of Mathematics and Philosophy at the University of Toronto, originally from Kenya, he explained how he'd already read the Gita, and liked the poetry in it. He also explained that it contained a lot of ideas, and that he always took ideas with a pinch of salt. So I started to tell him a little about my own education in mathematics and engineering and computer science, and what I did for a living, and talked about the content of the book, explaining that it was not speculation, but very true, and had borne out in the lives of millions of people as objective reality. I explained how I received my copy of the Gita over a decade ago on the street, how I initially read it to find faults and put it away, how I went back to it, and kept going back to it, and now, here I was, taking time off work standing out here trying to pass on what had been given to me freely. He complimented me for a good sales pitch, and said he had no money. In fact, earlier I saw him call a friend on his phone, to meet him for a coffee, and I suspected the friend may be paying... so I believed he had no money. Some day we will meet again, or maybe he will meet someone else and maybe delight them by just accepting a copy of the Bhagavad Gita from them, just as others have from me.

A young Jewish man stopped by, trademark little cap on the crown of his head, with a bright smile he took the book from my hand, and opened it, and I was pleasantly surprised to see him reading a couple of words in Sanskrit! Wasn't that something, to see that he'd somehow taught himself to read a little bit of Sanskrit. He didn't take a book home, he said he already had one. He wished me well, and I knew he meant it.

Carol breezed by straight to where I stood. As I called out to her and she saw the title of the book, she stopped, looked at me, and her eyes went big. Just a few days ago, her husband had expressed a desire to read the Bhagavad Gita, and she wondered where she could get a copy from. She was amazed to see me, I started talking about the book, but she was ready to buy even before I started. She pulled out her purse, had exactly the donation needed, took a copy and was about to rush off. Then she put the book in her bag, explained that her husband's birthday was coming around in a few days, and that he would never expect to find this book among his birthday gifts. I mentioned to her that when someone desires the knowledge in the Bhagavad Gita, the speaker of the Gita sees to it that they come in contact with it, and here we were. She was amazed, because really, what are the odds of meeting a book distributor holding out a book, in downtown Toronto, a couple of days after one's spouse expresses a desire to read that very book book? And to have exactly the right amount of money? On your way to work with not too much time to spare? These little miracles happen all the time, and they are too numerous and too precisely orchestrated to be mere coincidences. Some day soon, we may see this couple in Urban Edge Yoga.

Dimitri stopped. He had passed me once before, given me a little bow, turned towards me, and shook his head to say he was not interested. I was pleasantly taken aback at his extra politeness, and wished him well in my mind, smiling. Now, he stopped, and as I started to talk about the book, he got more and more interested, until he opened his wallet and took out a donation. He was concerned that this copy of the Bhagavad Gita may have been somehow damaged, as it was snowing lightly. I explained that I'd held this book for less than 5 minutes before he stopped by, and it was true, the lady Carol hadn't been gone long. He explained that he was quite finicky about his books, he didn't like the pages getting folded or the cover getting crumpled. I appreciated how carefully he placed the Bhagavad Gita into his bag, carefully rearranging everything else around it. I reflected how sometimes I was so careless with so precious a treasure, even after having such a good idea of its value! Dimitri was from Cyprus, he has always been interested in these topics, and is a sincere seeker. Maybe we will find him again at the Urban Edge Yoga or the temple even.

After a few more small books, I decided to head back to the car and go home for the evening, since I'd reached my cold limit threshold for that day. The flesh is indeed weak, from such experiences of cold and heat, we get an idea of how the soul must be transcendental to these things, but how it agrees to do things as convenient for the body, sometimes it is necessary to keep body and soul together, sometimes just pandering to its endless demands, I couldn't decide which it was in my case, though I'm sure I could have stuck out just a litte bit longer with more determination.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ratha Yatra - Pulling Krishna Back!

While we've always had a book tent at Ratha Yatra, we've always been either short-staffed, or with not enough titles. This year because of the very recent India order, we not only had additional books in other languages, but also many new and old titles that devotees would be interested in as well (Siksamrita, Lilamrita, Namamrta, Sloka book and more). Also because of the Monthly Sankirtan Festivals over the last one year, we were able to have a team of very dedicated 10-12 devotees with Sankirtan as their primary service.

As suggested by Vaisesika Prabhu, this year we were able to get more than 500 small books sponsored. We wanted these small books to be distributed during the harinama on the eve of Ratha Yatra and also during the Parade. Since the books were already sponsored, we encouraged devotees to be liberal in giving them out for any donations. Devotees were able to distribute more than 200 small books during this time, and the enthusiasm of the participating devotees spilled over others as more and more devotees wanted to do books during the harinama and parade.

At the festival site, we had a 20x20 feet tent for books and 8 tables. Our goal in terms of the layout was for maximum visibility, accessibility and mobility. Since we had many different titles in multiple languages, we decided to have table signs (much like table numbers at weddings) that would read out the language/category. These signs, handmade by Vrndavan Prabhu, really allowed books to be very well organized and visible. We also had a special sale table comprising of the remaining sponsored books, where we offered any 3 small books for $5. This was a major attraction for most people, and a great way to get them through the door (literally). We also ran a festival special discount on all other regular books, which encouraged both devotees and guests to buy more books (including most of us!). We also distributed 1x4 fliers promoting the Book Tent featuring the special sale table and the discounted prices.

At any time we had about 5-7 devotees managing various tables in the book tent. There was a constant flow of traffic, hardly leaving any time for the core team to take a break or go around the festival site, which was in itself ecstatic.

We also had 2 sandwich boards (again handmade by Vrndavan Prabhu) placed at two sides of the book tent, which had 4 collages (prepared by Mangal Arti dd, Nicole and Romey), on 4 different contemporary themes that are addressed in Srila Prabhupada's books with the hope of encouraging people to check out the books. The 4 themes were - Love and Relationships, Environmental Crises, Overcoming Stress, and Science & Sastra. These displays attracted passersby, we even saw some people making notes of the content!

In addition to the main tent, we also had 4-6 satellite tables setup around various exhibits each manned by 1-2 devotees (e.g. Vegetarianism, Bhagavad-gita, Q&A, Reincarnation, Simple Living High Thinking, Mantra-meditation etc). This increased our visibility and captured the attention of the guests from all possible means. Our dear Walking Bhagavad gita, who turned 1 year this Rath Yatra, won everyone's applaud again this year, and remained an amazing channel for increased BG distribution as people would stop to take pictures and gradually end up buying a book!

All these efforts designed and pursued under Vaisesika prabhu's model, brought tremendous success to the Sankirtan efforts! Not only were we able to distribute more than 1400 books (which is 3 times the number as last year) for very encouraging laxmi points, but all the participating devotees were enlivened and inspired beyond compare.

The two Ratha Yatra days and the week leading up to it was very long and intense, but the smiling faces of the devotees dedicatedly engaged in Sankirtan was a treat for everyone - we also had a muslim lady walk up to us and say - I really just want to be as happy as you, can you tell me how! Every single devotee was so inspired to just share whatever they had, their realizations, the books and knowledge, that they did not even care for any discomfort or lack of sleep. Serving together like this, increased the bonding between the devotees, actually enabling us to realize how Sankirtan is our very life and soul.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Niagara Falls MSF - 1-year Anniversary Special

By Radhamohan das

Because of the G-20 summit in Toronto on the last weekend of June, we had to postpone our Niagara Falls special Monthly Sankirtan Festival (MSF) by a week. We were apprehensive about many things - new location, turnout, logistics, and above all, physical absence of Shyama-mohini dd (who was away that week attending the annual retreat with HH Bhakti Charu Swami in Vraj, USA). However, by Lord Caitanya's causeless mercy as always, everything worked out seamlessly. Shyama-mohini dd did an excellent job before leaving of planning and coordinating the prasadam with a team of devotees (both for sankirtan and devotees), and was also a constant source of inspiration and encouragement via email and phone. Devotees had their best time, were extremely inspired, enlivened and very enthusiastic to go out again!

We rented a 48-seater school bus to drive devotees to the Falls, which saved the hassles of coordinating cars and drivers. A few families drove their own cars, bringing the total participation to 55. Plan was to leave at 9am, do sankirtan from 11am to 2pm, picnic lunch 3 to 4pm, and return by 6pm. Given the 1.5 hour drive one way, we made special arrangements to make sure that devotees were on time. By Lord's inconceivable mercy, at 9:10am the bus had left downtown Toronto. The bus journey allowed devotees to bond together in an environment free from the stress of driving. There was kirtan all along, and for many this was the best part of the entire trip. We utilized the time on the bus to set the mood, bring everyone on the same page and do some training as there were some new people on the bus. We started by reading an excerpt from HG Vaisesika prabhu's email which was full of words of encouragement and inspiration. We also read a very inspiring message sent by Shyama-mohini dd. Next we discussed the "what" and "how" of book distribution based on Vasesika prabhu's instructions, assigned teams and team leaders, shared the itinerary and special instructions for the day. On the outskirts of the city, we were greeted by Mr. Sudesh Gupta, Shyama-mohini's grand uncle. He guided the bus to the best spot near the Falls, and also drove Vrndavan prabhu around later to show different spots including the park where we would take lunch.

It was the most beautiful day with thousands of people at the Falls. We found a good spot on the grass next to the side walk and made it our nucleus base, where we kept all the boxes of books, water and prasadam. Constant kirtan and dancing went on at that spot, which was a huge attraction for the tourists. They were taking pictures and many were dancing along. It also allowed devotees, especially with kids, to rest in the tree shade as the sun was scorching hot. At the same time, many devotees spread out on the side streets distributing prasadam, mantra & Rath Yatra cards, and books to the fortunate souls. Devotees had the greatest fun ever (you can read Shama Sharma's experiences - her first MSF - on this blog http://torontosankirtan.blogspot.com/2010/07/be-heard-my-first-tryst-with-msf.html). 3 hours later, devotees had distributed about 1000 pieces of prasadam, 100s of Rath Yatra cards and 82 books for ~$300 laxmi (1/3rd of which was in US$ suggesting many books went across the border!). Devotees were exhausted but no one wanted to stop. We then took few group pictures, and drove to the park for lunch prasadam, which was very elaborately cooked by a team of devotees. Devotees shared their experience while partaking in sumptuous prasadam. Around 4:30pm, we drove back to Toronto with non-stop kirtan in the bus, which heightened up as we entered downtown and neared the temple. As the final thing, devotees gathered in the temple hall and shared their realizations from the day, which brought tears in my eyes as I remembered the unlimited causeless mercy that Lord Caitanaya and the disciplic succession have showered on us undeserving souls. Devotees went home physically exhausted but spiritually enlivened and wanting more. One lady with a baby, who got Bhagavad-gita at the Falls from Sankalp and Shaun (both 14) showed up at the Sunday Feast in Toronto the next day! Few people who got festival cards at the Falls also came to the Rath Yatra festival a couple weeks later.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Be Heard - My First Tryst with MSF

Shama Sharma

It was the very first time that I participated in Sankirtan festival at ISKCON Toronto and that too at the annual big anniversary at the Niagra Falls!It was personally my third visit to the Falls but this was the first time that I enjoyed this beauty of the nature from inside out with Krishna's mercy and in the loving association of the devotees. It was huge fun sitting with so many devotees in the same bus with all of us singing, dancing, clapping, laughing and make our way to the Falls. We got very nice training and guidance during the journey from Radha Mohan Prabhu about how to have a humble Krishna Conscious mindset while distributing books.On reaching Niagara Falls, I started with participating in Kirtan and enjoying the Harinaam. People there were so attracted to the Kirtan that some of them even joined and started dancing with us. It was so fulfilling for me personally to see the big smiles on their faces which originates from the internal happiness with the effect of none other but the Holy Name!I felt so enthusiastic while distributing books because it was really a humbling experience to meet so many awesome people. I am so thankful to have so much mercy from Krishna to make it happen for me.I also realized that the guidance that we got on the way from the sankirtan team was so practical as it helped me to keep my focus during whole time while I was on book distribution.The bus tour, food, trip guidance and actually everything in this tour was so organized that I would like to convey my heartiest Thanks to the organizing members who made it a wonderful experience for all of us!

How I Came Through Srila Prabhupada’s Books – One Devotee’s Story

As compiled by Rashi Singh

One year ago, HG Vaisesika Prabhu graced ISKCON Toronto with his presence for the first time, and our temple has not since been the same. Not only had he empowered and inspired a group of devotees to form the Toronto Sankirtana Team, but by his mercy, many people are feeling the buzz of book distribution, and so many more are reaping its benefits. One such person is now a regular, valued member of the ISKCON Toronto family. At a regular Sunday feast, I have the privilege of honouring prasadam with this devotee, who explains her story to me.

About a year ago, Haleh Ashkevari was driving with her daughter in the Bloor-Spadina neighbourhood. Haleh was unassumingly parking her car, while her daughter walked into a nearby store in the trendy area. As Haleh stepped out of her car, a devotee approached her and asked if she was interested in yoga. She said yes. The devotee began showing her the pages and some pictures of the Bhagavad Gita, using the tips that HG Vaisesika Prabhu provided, that Haleh herself is now very familiar with. Intrigued, she gave the devotee $20 in exchange for the book, after which he introduced her to Vaisesika Prabhu. “Do you believe in the power of prayer?” Vaisesika Prabhu asked.“Sure,” she said.“I’m going to teach you one – repeat after me.” And then Haleh uttered the Hare Krishna mahamantra for the first time in this life. “I’ll never forget that feeling,” she remembers. “I really felt like something had taken over me. The mantra was so powerful.” Snapping her out of her somewhat bewildered and happy state, Haleh’s daughter then approached her to leave for the next store. And she did, but not before Vaisesika Prabhu invited her to the temple. She came the very next day, and gave Vaisesika Prabhu her contact information, upon his request.

For two months, she didn’t come to the temple due to a busy travel schedule, but Vaisesika Prabhu stayed in touch with her. “He was so kind, and very personal,” says Haleh. “I don’t think I knew how lucky I was!” With the encouragement of HG Vaisesika Prabhu, Haleh began coming to the temple more regularly. Although she felt it was a little scary at first, the devotees made her feel very welcome. Also at the insistence of Vaisesika Prabhu, Haleh began going out on books. “It’s been a wonderful experience. I feel that going out on books is a self-cleansing process for me. Every time I recognize things in people that are preventing them from surrendering to Krishna , I feel like I’m looking in a mirror.” At this point in Haleh’s story, I’m in awe. Was it just one year ago that Haleh came into our lives? She is such an integral part of our community, and such a warm and loving personality. And as she says something so simple, and so humble, I begin to appreciate the power of Srila Prabhupada’s books, and of Vaisesika Prabhu’s care. “I feel like going out on books allows me to meet people who remind me of what the things are that I need to work on to progress in my Krishna Consciousness,” she continues. “I’m reaching a point in my spiritual life where I’m realizing many of my faults, and my personal obstacles. I hope that going out on books will continue to purify me, and I really hope that I have the blessings and association of all the Toronto devotees to help me!” Again, I’m deeply inspired by Haleh’s humility, and the depth of her realizations. There are so many people in our city who are in desperate need of Srila Prabhupada’s books. With a little bit of courage, and a lot of mercy, we should all try to assist the Toronto Sankirtana Team as much as possible, and play a small role in pushing on Srila Prabhupada’s glorious mission here in Toronto .

Speaking to Haleh makes me realize that we really are just instruments, and Krishna will send us people who are ripe for Krishna Consciousness if we endeavor with sincerity. I also realize that book distribution is as much for our own purification than anything else. “Here I am a year later, praying for the mercy and blessings of all the vaisnavas,” Haleh says. “I am eternally grateful and indebted to HG Vaisesika Prabhu.”

We're Back!

After having been away for a while, we're back to blogging again! What you may ask, were we upto in all these days/months!

Well, well summer is time for activity everywhere...and so the Sankirtan Team has also been buzzing with heightened activity in the last little while. The Anniversary MSF trip to Niagara Falls, Receiving and processing the humoungous book order and finally preparing and executing the Ratha Yatra Sankirtan Plan. While the fun doesn't end here, we thought we should update you on the happenings nevertheless. Stay tuned for reports on these very exciting events that just happened.

Also coming up next:-

1. CDM - Ceto Darpan Marjanam - Organized cleaning of the temple - July 24th


Lets clean the temple of Sri Sri Radha KsicoraGopinath in the association of like-minded people and relish yummy pizza after!

2. Vaisesika Prabhu returns to ISKCON Toronto August 12-16th - More info coming up soon

Monday, June 28, 2010

Toronto Sankirtan Team's First Anniversary!

Sankirtan is a Sanskrit term which means the congregational chanting and sharing of the names and glories of Krishna, which is the recommended process for spiritual success. In the Hare Krishna tradition, sankirtan is associated with sharing our spiritual culture with the public via the timeless books, translated by Srila Prabhupada.

For the past one year, the Toronto Sankirtan Team has been organizing monthly sankirtan festivals (MSF), where enthusiastic Bhakti Yoga Practitioners go out on the streets to share spiritual books, prasadam (karma-free food) and the holy name. This month marks the one year anniversary of the MSF, and on this special occasion, Toronto Sankirtan Team invites you to join in for a memorable sankirtan outing at Niagara Falls on July 3rd, 2010.

Tentative Schedule:
7:45am Srimad Bhagavatam Class
9:00am Depart from temple
10:30am Arrive at Niagara Falls
11:00am-2:00pm – Street Sankirtan
2:00pm – Lunch Prasadam
4:00pm – Drive back to temple

A nominal contribution of $15/person applicable if transportation is required.Pre-registration is mandatory (deadline: June 30, Wednesday). For registration / questions, please fill the form or email toronto.sankirtan@gmail.com. In the email, please specify if you would require transportation.

We look forward to seeing you on the 3rd!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Mis-Judging a book by its Cover - Krishna Magic

Submitted by:- Mangal-arti devi dasi

It was interesting today as i stood at the corner of Avenue and Bloor hoping to reach out to someone with a book. My consciousness was battered and I was severely in pain, physical and mental, but that's not new anymore. I saw this semi clad lady just glide by in her skates and i thought perhaps she must be a crazy...anyways she was wearing a necklace that reminded me of Krishna, I stopped her and asked questions about it. We got talking and I showed her the books I had. She said she was curious about yoga and gave me $2 for the Perfection of Yoga. Soon she started to tell me about Osho's book she had read and some deepak chopra stuff. I immediately replied - wow you should have told me that before. Osho Deepak chopra..they all read Bhagavad Gita and I showed her a copy. Seeing the mantras i asked her to try and read one and she played along. Then she said i have to get a copy of Bhagavad Gita for myself...i told her take this one.She looked positively surprised but had very little laxmi and took the book. I started to tell her about Sunday's event and she said she would come and then i asked her about her life. So she showed me the picture of her daughter who was less than 2 years of age. I asked her to get her daughter along and we chatted. She hugged me several times as she left and said she would come on Sunday. I couldn't believe she was a mother - she barely wore anything and had 4 different earrings and chains and what not...but she too was searching Bhagavad Gita.

Later she stopped me again and introduced me to her friends who were cycling by...they said they would all come on Sunday, but just now i received an email from her :

Thank you Aarti,It was quite a pleasure meeting you today, I am so greatful for the book you gave me and want to start reading it soon. Although sunday sounded like a fabulous idea, my husband just informed me that its mothers day and that he and the baby have a day planned out for me already. I would really like to come to the next event so please let me know as they arise!Namaste,Kristina

Monday, April 26, 2010

AtitaVancha - Krishna who fulfils your desires beyond expectations

A quick attempt at flyering a little bit on tuesday took place. The response was not as favorable as some other times, but keeping in mind the role of just "being there" I persisted. After sometime I saw this very simple yet intelligent looking person, I approached him - "we're having a yoga festival" to which he very politely replied " I am not from toronto". I then offered him a Perfection of Yoga as a present from Toronto. I enquired where he was from, and learnt that he was visiting a Neurology conference all the way from Switzerland! He was a little bit into yoga and meditation and was very happy to receive the book. He did not have change for donation, so instead of brushing me aside, he actually took the time to go inside the Seven Eleven Store and get some change. Touched by his sincerity I offered him another book and he graciously accepted. He then asked me about some restaurant of which I admitted to have no idea. As soon as we parted ways, I felt guilty at not having offered him prasad or inviting him to the centre. I felt like running behind him and stopping him, but he had left. The entire evening I was caught up in guilt and wished he would return.

On thursday, while the cooking class was going on, my wonderful husband was distributing flyers and books downstairs from Urban Edge Yoga. Where unknown to him, he met my friend from Switzerland. Upon talking further, he realized this was the same guy I had talked about...this time he invited him to come up... The cooking class had almost wrapped up and I was more than delighted to have met my Swiss Friend again...He not only came in, he had prasad (lots of it), and gave another donation...only to part with another book and a bag of goodies for his trip! He was very happy to have met us and left us his address, offering us to be his guests in Bern.

It was a special feeling of reciprocation. Krsna the master of mystics had yet again fulfilled my seemingly simple desire, beyond all my expectations!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

April 24 (Sat) 9:00am:- 11th Monthly Sankirtan Festival

Its the last saturday of the month and time again for our Monthly Sankirtan Festival (MSF):(Schedule below).

MSF - Our Monthly Sankirtan Festivals are an initiative to share Krsna Consciousness in an organized manner in the association of devotees, through distributing books, prasad, holy name and warm friendly smiles!

If you've been to a MSF before, you've experienced the joy of sharing the wonderful message of Krsna Consciousness with the passersby on the streets of GTA- so you need no more convincing, and for those of you who've never been able to come out - you'll really have to experience it to know what its like!

Please bring your friends and family, you're certainly in for an unforgetable treat. And please dress warmer than you think you'll need to, given the unpredictable weather. Looking forward to serving with you.

Schedule for Sat, April 24th:-

9:00am :- arrive at the temple

9:30am :- Training on "how" and "what" of going out experience

10:30am : - Team assignments10:45am :- Drive to various locations

11:00am-2:00pm :- Harinama Sankirtan at different locations

2:00pm :- Final harinam & Wrap up

2:30pm :- Return to temple for lunch prasadam

No More Steak!

The evening started on a low note with some disturbing conversations. However Lord Chaitanya really wanted his way! A couple of very pleasant encounters happened, and while Vraja (My sankirtan partner for the evening) and I were discussing how we should probably wrap up and head back in 15 minutes, I noticed a car that stopped in front of us. The people appeared friendly, so I approached them "Hi, we're having a yoga festival". To this, one of the guys (Peter) replied, yes I got one from you the other day and you also gave me a book! Embarrassed, I apologized. However, he gave the flyer to this other friend (Anthony) who was accompanying him for dinner. Anthony got into some serious thought and started to ask about the books. He then asked me if there was anything about KARMA! I said certainly, and showed him the Bhagavad Gita. However the size of the book scared him, and he preferred to read something simple. I ran up to the centre and fetched for him a Coming Back. On my way down, I felt this unknown urge to try and give him the Bhagavad Gita. So I again tried to push it, however he was adamant and wanted some small books. After some discussion, he took one copy of all of the small books I had and gave a kind donation.

We then got into a conversation, somehow Anthony opened Coming Back to the page of the above image and his expressions completely changed. He said he was scared...and upon asking he revealed how he had been haunted by a dream since he was 3 yrs old which had a similar channel and an old man pushing him down. I told him how it could have been his previous lives' impressions. We then got in to the discussion on Karma, next life and more...while talking he casually took the Bhagavad Gita from my hand and started to read through the book. He came across the images and the one of KARMA really struck him. There and then he said : No More Steak!. He read on, and was visibly attracted to the book. He asked me more stuff, about Karma, reincarnation...and also if he could eat fish! Eventually, he just took the book and offered a kind donation for it as well. We exchanged contact info, and Anthony is eager to stay in touch. All 4 of us parted as good friends would, with Anthony proclaiming - No more steak!

It appeared miraculous, but Sri Hari certainly has His own plan...how Peter remembered meeting me, and encouraged his friend to speak with me...How Anthony had this dream about the reincarnation picture...and How just one look at Srila Prabhupada's work convinced him for life!

Param Vijayate Sri Krsna Sankirtanam

No Language Barriers for Bhakti

Submitted by:- Mangal Arti dd

I met a Russian lady near Finch, while she was for her husband. I showed her the Perfection of Yoga which she appreciated and decided to take. However she was waiting for her husband to get the money. While waiting, we started to talk, she told me how her husband was interested in yoga but could not speak English. I insisted and she asked him to still try and come. Ultimately she gave me a nice donation and left with a book. I didn't think much of it until yesterday when her husband called me. He could barely speak or understand English and we had great difficulty communicating but somehow (miraculously) I did not loose my patience and even though it seemed like he understood nothing, he came for a class last night. At the end of the class he chanted very nicely- no language barrier there. He then told me he left meat years ago and his younger son refused to eat since little. He was trying to find about reincarnation etc, so I told him to get japa beads which he did. I tried to explain he can chant regardless of circumstances and he said he would.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The International Connection - Mercy from Down Under

Submitted by:- Mangal Arti dd
I was just stepping out of subway and was nervous to distribute fliers or books at the station. Somehow as I mustered the courage to approach this guy expecting him to say no - he looked at the Perfection of Yoga and to my sheer surprise said, ah Yes, I have read this book. Expecting an answer like Eaton Centre or something, I asked him where he received this book. I was in for another surprise as he revealed he found it in Australia - I told him I also found my copies of the book in Australia when I was living in Melbourne. I asked him where in Australia, hesitating a little bit, he tried to avoid the details. Then he said ah it was a hotel in Alice Springs where someone had kept it on a table and I took it, and he liked what he read. I showed him the Bhagavad gita and even though he looked attentively he said he was from Ottawa just visiting here and could not take it with him. I told him I dont feel right as i had to give him something.
I then showed him a Chant and be happy. He stopped and looked and I told him about Beatles. He said he would read it and also said his brother likes the beatles and would read it too. I asked him if he could give me some donation for the book and he gave me some laxmi for the book and left. In my heart I was thanking the devotee who left Perfection of yoga at Alice springs outback restuaraunt.

Amazon.com - The Transcendental Sankirtan Goof-Up!

Originally posted at :- http://rails.bharatavarsa.net/articles/show/10038 by H.G. Vijaya Prabhu

Jed was looking into Buddhism and found out about Krsna from one of the books. He purchased a Bhagavad-gita (not Srila Prabhupada's) and read it, but he couldn't understand what it was about. He still wanted to know about Krsna though, so he ordered a couple of books from Amazon.com about the life of Krsna (neither of the books he ordered was by Srila Prabhupada).
When he received the books he was surprised that one of them was Bhagavad-gita As It Is. He checked to make sure he hadn't ordered that book, and sure enough he hadn't. Amazon.com had goofed (or was it Krsna's arrangement?). He was getting ready to pack it up and return it to Amazon when he thought, "Well, they sent me the book. I might as well read a bit of it." So he opened it up and started looking through it. He was surprised to see such nice artwork; his other, non-Prabhupada Gita didn't have such beautiful illustrations. After studying the artwork, he started reading the Gita, and after only one paragraph he understood that "This is the highest truth." He located the Cape Town temple and is now Bhakta Jed.
The story continues . . . As last Christmas approached, Bhakta Jed asked his mother for an early Christmas present. She said, "Sure, what do you want?" Jed replied, "I would like you to chant one round a day for the month of Kartika, a special spiritual month of the year."
She agreed. And after a month of chanting she couldn't stop. She is still chanting and gradually losing her taste for material activities.
The story continues . . . Jed wanted to give his best friend a Bhagavad-gita As It Is. He was going to order the book from amazon.com, but before he did he had to clean out the attic of his house. While cleaning he saw a book in the shadows, and as he went closer he found that it was Bhagavad-gita As It Is! But it was the original, abridged one with the purple cover, published in 1968. His mother had bought it back around then, and it had ended up in the attic. Jed gave that book to his friend, who read it and became a devotee.

The domino affect . . . all started by some worker in Amazon.com's warehouse who was inspired by the Supersoul to send Jed "the wrong book" about Krsna.