Goal for 2013 - 50,000 + books!

Last Update: Jan 31, 2013

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Misdirected "Hi"

One of the key lessons Vaisesika Prabhu taught us in his numerous visits to Toronto is to catch the attention of passerbys on the street with a big smile and big wave and loudly say "Hi". Eventhough I am not an experienced book distributor, I like saying "Hi" to people on the street when I am doing Sankirtan.

Today, while doing Sankirtan at Bay and Bloor, I saw this young man with a yoga mat hanging on his back and he had this look that  made me feel like he would be interested in me. I smiled and said a loud "Hi" and to my dismay he ignored me, however, a man who was walking next to him, thinking that I said hi to him, looked at me and smiled back and said "Hi". I thought this was a sign from Krishna and I started to talk to him. The minute I showed him the book, he had a big smile on his face and he said - "Hare Krishna - I love you guys!" and he immediately brought a book.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Krishna's sweet tricks

I was walking home after sankirtan, almost freezing and dragging some books with me. In the middle of Spadina Avenue I saw a girl walking in my direction with a big smile. As she came closer I asked her what the secret to her happiness was. We started to talk and I gave her a Chant and be happy explaining that it was for all happy people. As she heard the philosophy she was appreciative so I told her to repeat a happiness mantra with me and she happily repeated ‘Gauranga’. We continued to talk about her work and then I asked her if she liked to sing and she said she liked to dance. We worked it out so that she would dance and sing with me. As I showed her the Maha mantra she repeated it right after me. When the Maha mantra ended she said ‘oh this is Rama, I was looking for Rama’. She explained that yesterday she was wondering what to do with herself and not knowing what she took the first alphabet of the name of every employee that worked with her and connected them together to decipher a message. The message ended with the word Rama and implied something to the effect that she should connect with Rama. She said after she saw this last night she repeated the word Rama several times and was wondering where to find it and now she ran into us. Krishna truly is the Supersoul in everyone’s heart 

Crazy crazy world

I was near Yonge and Dundas yesterday and I saw two men with a big built walking as if they were slightly drunk. They were talking amongst themselves and walking towards my direction and my mind went through the extremes of stay out of their way or they will create trouble or try to reach out to them as they seem to need it the most. Finally as they were close enough, these words came out of my mouth - Have you heard of meditation or yoga. These two stopped and one of them turned towards me, looked right at me and opened his mouth as big as he could and let out a shriek on my face that could wake even the dead. My hands moved towards my heart and all I could say in disbelief was - Hare Krishna. I was expecting the worse was yet to come but the other guy interjected his friend and said - Man you are crazy. What are you doing to her? Then he came towards me and said you have spoken to me before. As the other friend had come in touch with Srila Prabhupada books he was a totally different person. I prayed for strength and gently showed the other friend a perfection of yoga which he happily took to read. It was a great example of how people change in association of Prabhupada books.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Transcendental order

"Therefore I order every man within this universe to accept this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement and distribute it everywhere.

In this connection there is a song sung by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura:
enechi auṣadhi māyā nāśibāra lāgi'
harināma-mahāmantra lao tumi māgi'
bhakativinoda prabhu-caraṇe paḍiyā
sei harināma-mantra la-ila māgiyā
The sańkīrtana movement has been introduced by Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu just to dispel the illusion of māyā, by which everyone in this material world thinks himself to be a product of matter and therefore to have many duties pertaining to the body. Actually, the living entity is not his material body: he is a spirit soul. He has a spiritual need to be eternally blissful and full of knowledge, but unfortunately he identifies himself with the body, sometimes as a human being, sometimes as an animal, sometimes a tree, sometimes an aquatic, sometimes a demigod, and so on. Thus with each change of body he develops a different type of consciousness with different types of activities and thus becomes increasingly entangled in material existence, transmigrating perpetually from one body to another. Under the spell of māyā, or illusion, he does not consider the past or future but is simply satisfied with the short life span that he has gotten for the present. To eradicate this illusion, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has brought the sańkīrtana movement, and He requests everyone to accept and distribute it. A person who is actually a follower of Śrī Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura must immediately accept the request of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu by offering respectful obeisances unto His lotus feet and thus beg from Him the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra. If one is fortunate enough to beg from the Lord this Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra, his life is successful.

CC Adi 9.37

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A book in the bag

I met a young boy in University of Toronto last week and I showed him the chant and be happy. He responded saying he already had a book from me and was reading it. To my surprise he said he carried it everywhere and opened his bag to show me his copy. sankirtan yagya ke jaya!

Temple and book distribution

For preaching, construction of temples is also necessary. The Gosvāmīs not only engaged in writing books but also constructed temples because both are needed for preaching work. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu wanted the cult of His sańkīrtana movement to spread all over the world. Now that the International Society for Krishna Consciousness has taken up this task of preaching the cult of Lord Caitanya, its members should not only construct temples in every town and village of the globe but also distribute the books that have already been written and further increase the number of books. Both distribution of books and construction of temples must continue side by side in parallel lines.

Cc Adi 7.165

Temple and book distribution

For preaching, construction of temples is also necessary. The Gosvāmīs not only engaged in writing books but also constructed temples because both are needed for preaching work. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu wanted the cult of His sańkīrtana movement to spread all over the world. Now that the International Society for Krishna Consciousness has taken up this task of preaching the cult of Lord Caitanya, its members should not only construct temples in every town and village of the globe but also distribute the books that have already been written and further increase the number of books. Both distribution of books and construction of temples must continue side by side in parallel lines.

Cc Adi 7.165

Monday, November 28, 2011

Compassionate outreach

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is the mercy incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is addressed by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī as mahā-vadānyāvatāra, or the most magnanimous incarnation. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī also says, karuṇayāvatīrṇaḥ kalau: it is only by His mercy that He has descended in this Age of Kali. Here this is exemplified. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu did not like to see Māyāvādī sannyāsīs because He thought of them as offenders to the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, but here He excuses them (tāń-sabāra kṣami' aparādha). This is an example in preaching. Āpani ācari' bhakti śikhāimu sabāre. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu teaches us that those whom preachers meet are almost all offenders who are opposed to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, but it is a preacher's duty to convince them of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement and then induce them to chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra. Our propagation of the sańkīrtana movement is continuing, despite many opponents, and people are taking up this chanting process even in remote parts of the world like Africa. By inducing the offenders to chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu exemplified the success of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. We should follow very respectfully in the footsteps of Lord Caitanya, and there is no doubt that we shall be successful in our attempts.

CC Adi 150

Saturday, November 26, 2011

30 years later

I was in Kensington market trying to reach out to people and I saw a man with two very little 7 year old (approximately) girls. I spoke to him and showed him the perfection of yoga and a picture of Srila Prabhupada and he really appreciated it. I requested a donation and he readily parted with some change. Then to know him better I tried to speak with his daughters and told him - I was their age when I got my first book. To my greatest surprise he replied "I was their age when I got that book (pointing to the chant and be happy in my hands". I was extremely surprised and asked him details of how he got. He had it and had read it and today 30 years later he was picking is second Srila Prabhupada book. Param Vijayate Sri Krishna Sankirtanam

Every minute can make a difference

I had a flight to catch to Harrisburg next morning and had not even started to pack my bag - but its marathon time so I had to try at least for a few minutes. I practically ran from my home and while i was running towards the closest major intersection I stopped to talk to a girl who had just stepped outside a sushi restaurant. I asked her if she had heard of yoga and she responded immediately saying " I have spoken with you before". I was not sure how this would turn out now but I asked her to remind me of our last meeting. She described how we met outside Starbucks and she got a book from me. I asked her if she had read the book and she explained that she had loved the perfection of yoga and wanted to come visit us, but she had lost our card. So I handed her a Chant and be happy and requested her to come visit us. She gave me some more donation and took the book promising to read it. We were discussing the rare chance of us running in like this and I knew for sure that this was no random event.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Shopping on the street

Submitted by : Mahabhagvat Das
A lady hurried by, something about what she said in response to my call "Yoga and Meditation?" made me follow her a few steps. She stopped and asked me what was yoga and why people say different things about yoga. I started explaining, and showed her the books. She kept looking through one, then another one, then another then back to the first one, then another, flipping pages, trying to absorb something from them, frantically switching from one book to the next to the next.

During the conversation, She told me her name, Gladys, that she was from Nigeria, that she had seen and heard this "Hare Krishna" many times. Eventually it got so cold that I offered to step into the mall, she agreed. She looked through the Bhagavad Gita again and again, and kept flip-flopping whether to take it or not. She expressed concern, what if she doesn't get anything out of it. I said what did she have to lose then anyway, as at the moment it didn't seem that she had anything any way, no loss. She expressed she didn't have much money. I handed her the softcover and said she could give me whatever she had. She expressed concern that she was not able to understand anything of what she read. I said that's because she kept flipping back-and-forth... that if she sat down and read carefully, few pages every day, she would understand, because the book was written for people like us who had trouble understanding complex things

Somehow or the other she counted out little coins, holding on to one particular toonie, which looked shiny, identifying it as her "new coin" which she did not want to spend. Then she took the Bhagavad Gita softcover, and said that if she didn't understand it, she would bring it back. I said I'd give her something even simpler to read in that case, and that simply keeping the book in her home would bring her good luck, but reading would help her more.

She resisted chanting the Mahamantra for some reason, but kept the invite to the Sunday feast.

I wondered how it was that someone would be very much attached to a shiny coin that had the same value as a dull-looking coin, but had so much trouble beating down the mind which kept posing objections, that kept urging her to shop and shop, even in spiritual books. Then I wondered how long I had been in that very same situation before somehow being fortunate enough to accept some little bit of devotional service, and I felt great compassion for this poor soul.

One beggar to another

Submitted by : Mahabhagvat Das

One scruffy young man stood about 10 feet from me, begging. A passerby gave him a cigarette. As I approached him, he lit the cigarette and began to inhale deeply that poison. I had asked him if he was interested in yoga and meditation, and he said without hesitation "yeah man, sure, I am interested". Having stood for a long time and heard different forms of negatives, I was pleasantly surprised. So I asked him if he'd practiced yoga, and he said no. I showed him the Bhagavad Gita which he appreciated. As I showed him the pictures, he said I was preaching to the choir. I asked him where he'd heard all this - he told me his friend had told him this when he was high on acid once. He said he didn't have any money, and I believed him. So I asked him if he had even some change, as little as one cent, for a smaller book that costs us less to print. He pulled out all the little coins, likely he'd begged them by standing on the street. It wasn't a lot, but he picked up Bhakti Yoga, the Art of Eternal Love, saying his girlfriend was really into this, that she would love that book. He chanted with me the Hare Krishna Mahamantra, told me he was a musician. Before he left, I gave him Chant and Be Happy, thinking he would really be attracted by George Harrison. I also gave him an invite to the Sunday feast, and he said he'd come with his girlfriend.

He took the book, shook hands, and left. In another 2 minutes, I saw him about 50 metres up the street, showing the book(s) to someone else. The people looked at the books but didn't take them. He moved on.

I don't know if the man will read the books, or will distribute them in exchange for some worthless pieces of sense gratification, but regardless, he has participated in the Sankirtan movement of Lord Chaitanya in his own way, now my prayer is that Lord Chaitanya should please pick up this scruffy young man from the stress and confusion of trying to get high by artificial means, and become a devotee of the Holy Names of God, and stay High up for ever.

Anger management

Submitted by Mahabhagvat Das

I met this young boy who was rushing by but something (or Someone) made him stop and said "yeah man, yeah, actually, what am I doing, just walking around, yeah, I will hear what you have to say". I spoke a few sentences about the Bhagavad Gita, the people who read it and benefited from it, yoga, meditation, and I asked him for his name. He replied with his name - Sebastian. I then asked him what he did. He began to tell me how he was in a special school working off issues with anger. I told him I had issues with anger also, and it got me into a lot of trouble. He said he was getting out of those troubles now. He then spoke about how everyone should have an open mind, about how everyone should be free to speak, and there should be more patience and tolerance in this world. I gave him a mantra card and asked him to chant. Half-way through the mantra, he stopped and asked me if I was tricking him into glorifying Krishna. I said I will tell him what the mantra meant as soon as we finished chanting once without interruption, and we chanted together. Then I told him that the mantra would help him totally conquer anger, that it helped me a lot. he compared it to counting to 10, and said, that doesn't really work, but this was more majestic. I said it was magical, it always calmed one down, and I said I'd been practicing for many years and had personal experience of its power. I told him that reading the book will also help him conquer anger also, on a deeper level too. He said he'd surely read it. He gave me a donation, practically all he had at the time, wished he had more to give. I invited him to the sunday feast, asked him to come with friends and have a great experience with food, drumming, chanting, music and singing... he shook hands and departed.

I just reflected upon this bright spark, part-and-parcel of Krishna, and wondered if it was being out of touch with Krishna that was making him so angry, and what made him stop and chat with me, take the book, chant the Mahamantra. I pray he reads, I pray he chants. I pray he pursues devotional service wholeheartedly.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Hare Krishna chanting

"'You are a fool,' he said. 'You are not qualified to study Vedānta philosophy, and therefore You must always chant the holy name of Kṛṣṇa. This is the essence of all mantras, or Vedic hymns.

Śrī Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Mahārāja comments in this connection, "One can become perfectly successful in the mission of his life if he acts exactly according to the words he hears from the mouth of his spiritual master." This acceptance of the words of the spiritual master is called śrauta-vākya, which indicates that the disciple must carry out the spiritual master's instructions without deviation. Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura remarks in this connection that a disciple must accept the words of his spiritual master as his life and soul. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu here confirms this by saying that since His spiritual master ordered Him only to chant the holy name of Kṛṣṇa, He always chanted the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra according to this direction ('kṛṣṇa-mantra' japa sadā, — ei mantra-sāra).

Adi 7.72

Monday, November 14, 2011

All auspicious sankirtan

Srila Rüpa Gosvami has given a definition of auspiciousness. He says that actual auspiciousness means welfare activities for all the people of the world. At the present moment groups of people are engaged in welfare activities in terms of society, community or nation. There is even an attempt in the form of the United Nations for world-help activity. But due to the shortcomings of limited national activities, such a general mass welfare program for the whole world is not practically possible. The Krishna consciousness movement, however, is so nice that it can render the highest benefit to the entire human race. Everyone can be attracted by this movement, and everyone can feel the result. Therefore, Rupa Gosvämi and other learned scholars agree that a broad propaganda program for the Krishna consciousness movement of devotional service all over the world is the highest humanitarian welfare activity.
How the Krishna consciousness movement can attract the attention of the whole world and how each and every man can feel pleasure in this Krishna consciousness is stated in the Padma Purana as follows: "A person who is engaged in devotional service in full Krishna consciousness is to be understood to be doing the best service to the whole world and to be pleasing everyone in the world. In addition to human society, he is pleasing even the trees and animals, because they also become attracted by such a movement." A practical example of this was shown by Lord Caitanya when He was traveling through the forests of Jharikhanda in central India for spreading His saìkértana movement. The tigers, the elephants, the deer and all the other wild animals joined Him and were participating, in their own ways, by dancing and chanting Hare Krishna.

Sravanam - bonafide hearing

As from wood, fire can be manifested, or as butter can be churned out of milk, so also the presence of the Lord as Paramātmā can be felt by the process of legitimate hearing and chanting of the transcendental subjects which are especially treated in the Vedic literatures like the Upaniṣads and Vedānta. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the bona fide explanation of these Vedic literatures. The Lord can be realized through the aural reception of the transcendental message, and that is the only way to experience the transcendental subject. As fire is kindled from wood by another fire, the divine consciousness of man can similarly be kindled by another divine grace. His Divine Grace the spiritual master can kindle the spiritual fire from the woodlike living entity by imparting proper spiritual messages injected through the receptive ear. Therefore one is required to approach the proper spiritual master with receptive ears only, and thus divine existence is gradually realized. The difference between animality and humanity lies in this process only. A human being can hear properly, whereas an animal cannot.

SB 1.2.32

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Keeping up with an image

I met a very young exchange student and initially was staying aloof not admitting any interest in the books. I asked him if he was the 'cool guy' not wanting to be seen with this stuff. He immediately backed off and said he was a simple guy not a cool guy and as we talked a little more - his expressions changed a little. I could see he was struggling with something so I inquired politely what the matter was. A few minutes later he told me he was struggling to keep up with the expectations people and friends have of him - the burden of keeping up with an image. It seemed to me like his eyes were teary so I handed him a Bhakti Yoga and showed a picture of Prabhupada encouraging him to read it. I explained that the body changes so no point trying to keep up, he should raise his consciousness. He then explained he was an exchange student and would leave in a few months. He took the book and I showed him the temple address for Mexico City in his home country. Praying he reads it.

Lord Krishna or Lord Rama

I met a girl at University of Toronto and when I was showing her a book; she reminded me that she had already taken a Bhagavad Gita from me before. I was happy to hear that and inquired if she had read it. She explained that her elder sister had taken the book from her and was reading it as she herself wasn’t as religious. I told her I wasn’t religious either but it was a matter of genuine experience and handed her a Science of self realisation. I explained to her the topics in there and she agreed to take it. I asked her more about her life. She revealed she was more into Lord Ram and wanted the Ramayana. She said Krishna was her sister’s interest but she wanted to know about Ram. Just that morning I was reading in Chaitanya Caritamrita
“yei yei rüpe jäne, sei taha kahe
sakala sambhave krishna, kichu mithyä nahe
In whatever form one knows the Lord, one speaks of Him in that way. In this there is no falsity, since everything is possible in Krishna. Adi 5.132”

Remembering what I read and knowing that I did not have a Ramayana, I handed her a Krihsna book. I tried to explain to her that this was the last day of Kartik (she really did not know what it was) and that she should read it. So somehow she agreed to take it and we exchanged numbers so I could get her a Ramayana later. Later that day she texted me asking for Ramayana and another copy of the Bhagavad Gita. We now plan to meet on Thursday and I wonder Lord Caitanya has in store for this young girl.

Mysteries of the space - a sankirtan learning

A few days ago I met a student at University of Toronto who at first maintained his distance saying he was not really into yoga and related stuff. I asked him where his interests lay and said he was into Ice hockey. I knew nothing about Ice hockey so I showed him a Beyond birth and death trying to explain how rare the book is. He listened as I told him that the body changes, mind changes but something about us remains the same and yoga is not only the process of keeping a healthy body but realising we are more than the body. He agreed to take the book so I wanted to know him better and asked him about what he was studying at University. He started to explain that he was a PhD student of Astrophysics and instantly I thought Vedic Planetarium project in Mayapur and how it would be nice to have him serve. He started to explain about Supernova explosions he was researching and I asked if he had heard about Vedic Cosmology. I tried to describe briefly what Prabhupada explains in Bhagvatam and he described it as classical Astrophysics. I then asked him if he could explain why 99% of matter astrophysicists study is dark matter. He corrected me and said that actually “75% of the matter was dark matter while 25% was observable matter. This dark matter is expanding very rapidly and some force is propelling it out but that is a great mystery no one knows about.” I told him how Krishna explains material world is ekamsha and that there is so much more that cannot be observed by material body. I asked him to keep in touch and come sometime to see Srimad Bhagvatam. Speaking to him I was realising if we just studied Bhagvatam properly it gives us thorough information about everything without having to go through the grills of modern education.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

An interfaith discussion

Submitted by : Yogendra das

I was distributing books at Dundas Square a few days ago, when I stopped one young man on vacation from Germany. I showed him a copy of Beyond Birth and Death, and said a little something to garner his interest. I wasn't sure if what I was saying would keep him for very long. In the middle my speaking, an elderly man distributing free copies of the Quran walked over from the corner and tried to hand him some books on Islam. Here is how we sometimes receive an opportunity to analyse our crisis management skills:

The Islamic representative encouraged the German to take his books, saying "You should research all religions." Rather than getting angry at his unscheduled behaviour, a second option presented itself: try and sympathize with where this older man is coming from; having a desire to share spiritual and cultural values for the benefit of others is purifying for any heart. Then came the reply from the German side, "No thanks, I am fine with this one [referring to Prabhupada's book]." Rather than becoming proud of having won the bout of the books, a second option presented itself: quickly try and use whatever compassion you have to minimize the rejection that this person could be feeling; I prayed for a swift end to any agitation he might have suffered." When the dejection hit the elderly man, the German boy gave me 10 Euros and walked away. I turned away from the elderly man, silently trying not to acknowledge his defeat. I had a few moments to reflect on how often I have tried to go out on a limb to present Krishna consciousness to someone and have received a big lump on the head in return.

At that time Joseph walked right up to me. He introduced himself as someone who has visited our temple on 243 Avenue Rd in Toronto. He was eager to purchase a few books. I was curious about how funny the flow of interactions on book distribution can sometimes be. As he was explaining his interest, he let his true intention slip out. He had come as an ambassador for the Islamic man. Joseph told me that the Islamic man asked him to approach me; according to Joseph, the Islamic man wanted to know what exactly we were all about. Rather than be cold about the situation, a second option presented itself: go over yourself and bring the book to him yourself, and make him your friend. He took a Bhagavad-Gita As It Is, on Joseph's donation. I walked away with some books on Islam. It was a cultural exchange and a successful, real-time interfaith dialogue.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A perfect arrangement

We had been packing up stuff all morning and now I thought we can try to meet some people. That's when a guy who actually just passed me, somehow stopped to talk. He wasn't super enthusiastic about yoga but seemed interested a bit in meditation. As I showed him the books he realized he had one and told me that a 5 days ago his girl friend had bought a chant and be happy from me and they were both reading it together. I was so happy to hear that and thanking him for that I showed him the Bhagavad Gita. I started to show pictures inside and some of the mantras. I requested him to read it and he went to get some laxmi from an ATM. When he returned I told him how I wasn't planning on staying but just came here a few minutes back to stay for a bit. He told me he was home being lazy, and didn't want to leave home but because his girlfriend was sick and he just decided a few minutes back to come down and ran into me. I told him about our programs and asked to come visit us.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Sublime yagya

Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya is the initiator of sańkīrtana [congregational chanting of the holy name of the Lord]. One who worships Him through sańkīrtana is fortunate indeed.
(Adi 3.77)

Such a person is truly intelligent, whereas others, who have but a poor fund of knowledge, must endure the cycle of repeated birth and death. Of all sacrificial performances, the chanting of the Lord's holy name is the most sublime. (Adi 3.78)

Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is the father and inaugurator of the sańkīrtana movement. One who worships Him by sacrificing his life, money, intelligence and words for the sańkīrtana movement is recognized by the Lord and endowed with His blessings. All others may be said to be foolish, for of all sacrifices in which a man may apply his energy, a sacrifice made for the sańkīrtana movement is the most glorious.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Param dhrishtava nivartate

Standing near University of Toronto, battling the first real cold sankirtan day of the winter for me, I was praying someone would come inspire me. That's around when I saw a guy who walked up to me and said - so you have the Bhagavad Gita. I was quiet taken aback as it’s not commonplace for someone to just come up and ask that question. Smiling and excited I asked him why he was looking for it. He told me how one year ago he had met two girls around Bloor and ST George and bought a Bhagavad Gita from them. I thought it was me and asked him if it was me. As it was a while ago, he could not remember. He had opened the Gita and tried to read it and was appreciative of it, so I gave him a Science of self realization and explained the contents. I showed him the reincarnation picture and asked him to think about the soul. Somehow the topic of soul drifted into vegetarianism and we started to discuss the latest veg.ca campaign to save animals. He started to tell me that he was eating most of his life and his parents would not have it any other way, but somehow 2 weeks ago, suddenly he had the thought of being vegetarian. He wasn’t sure where it came from. I explained to him the nature of super soul and how he guides from heart. Explaining param drishtava nivartate I asked him to develop higher taste by reading these books and he took the science of self realisation. He said he liked the fact that we were not those religious groups who look down upon others and that’s why he was taking the book. I showed him the picture in the Gita of the wise man who sees equally every being, even animals. He really appreciated it and left saying he would return.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Battle of life

After a really long wait of doing nothing, by Krishna's grace I met a young girl near Bloor and Spadina. She was in great rush like everyone else around downtown, but somehow she agreed to spare a minute to look at what I had. When she saw what the books were about she started to say how she really needs meditation and was looking badly for this. She explained that she had just lost her boyfriend who died from a 3 year battle against cancer, and it made her look at life differently. She herself wasn't very old, not over 25, and I started to think perhaps she went through a lot. Tried to show her the picture of reincarnation in the Bhagavad Gita and asked her to study it and keep in touch. She gave a generous donation for the book and left saying that she was looking forward to reading it.

A home away from home

I met two really young Indian students from Pune who were in University of Toronto for an exchange program here. We started to talk as I had also studied there. Initially they were hesitant but then they explained that they had visited our centres in India. I showed them a Bhagvad Gita each and asked them to read it. Even though they said that they had copies back in India, I showed the how this was different. They appreciated the Sanskrit and started reading the mantras. Then I requested them to please read it and share it with others. They were just students and quiet short on money, but they took all the change from their pockets and gave me donations for the books. They said they were really happy to have met me and I invited them to come to temple for Diwali. They were saying that they missed other festivals but were happy that they can make it to temple for Diwali. Praying that they actually make it to the temple.

We meet again

It was a wet and rainy day, and I was really slow meeting people due to the rain. That's when I met a girl who was passing through University of Toronto and stopped to talk to me. She was stressed and I showed her a Chant and be happy. We got talking about meditation and how it helps and I showed her a picture of Srila Prabhupada. She then remembered that she had met me a year ago near Yonge and Finch. I told her I had not been there for a while and was so happy to meet her again. She told me that she had read that book. Even though she had got it for her boy friend not so much herself, she had read it. Even today she started the conversation by saying she wasn't into yoga, but she was very inspired by her memory of our meeting last year and took a Bhagavad Gita. She said she would come back for an event with her boy friend who she said would be very inspired by knowing our story.

One can see how Krishna within the heart can give remembrance to the living entity and inspire their way back to Godhead.

Harinam power

A few days ago I was at the temple and Dharma-prana prabhu as always was inspiring me with his Sankirtan spirit, telling me to not me intimidated but be bold on Sankirtan. I was at UofT and remembering his little speech when I met a young man near the street car stop. He was going to go past, but then he recognised the maha mantra as I started to explain it to him. He said I know you are Hare Krishna and I obviously inquired how he heard about us. He explained that he had seen us chant near Bay and Bloor. That’s when I understood he was referring to the weekly Harinam that Krsnadas Kaviraj and Dharma-prana prabhus do. I was excited, and asked him more. He started to explain that he used to have a job there and from the window of the shop he worked in, he saw these devotees on Harinam and they were really attractive. He kept explaining they were really happy. He described Dharma-prana prabhu to me and explained he is really happy in mind and that he would like to be like prabhu because he looked so happy. Just from the window he was admiring the harinam party and has such deep appreciation. He bought a book and said he would come visit us.

Simply appreciation is giving him a touch of spiritual life. It is so nice. Shraddha. If they do not go against, simply appreciate, "Oh, they are doing nice..." So development of spiritual life means development of this appreciation, that's all. SB lecture 1.2.16 LA 1972

Friday, October 21, 2011

An Unforgettable Holiday

Submitted by - Gauracandra Das

I didn't plan to distribute any books in Hungary, I came to visit my family here, but Krishna gave me such an opportunity,I couldn't miss. I was visiting my sister-in-law and nephew in a small town, called Dabas. After a few days I was about to leave, but my sister-in-law told me, " please stay, the prime minister is coming to town, will give a speech for the inauguration of the new bell-tower, he is a nice fellow, please stay". I'm not interested in politics, so I still wanted to leave, but suddenly something came to my mind. I discovered that my nephew had two copies of Hungarian Bhagavad Gita by Srila Prabhupada. I asked him if I could borrow one of them. I thought I would try to give it to the prime minister, maybe he doesn't have one yet. And it turned out that it was Krishna's plan also. I didn't have to make a big endeavor, Krishna put me to the right place at the right time. Everything went very smoothly on that day.

The prime minister and other dignitaries gave a nice speech, and after the program I stayed in line to greet him.
As soon as he approached me I handed him the book and said " please accept the Bhagavad Gita ". First the mayor, who accompanied the Prime Minister, took the book from my hand and gave it to the audience, but the Prime Minister grabbed for it, thanked and shook hands with me. He walked away with the Bhagavad Gita. After a short follow up I found out that he also kept the book and it was the first time that he received it. Devotees in Hungary were very happy about my success and made my "holiday" unforgettable.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

5 minutes can make a difference

I was getting back from Bhakti Lounge and hadn't got the chance to go out on Sankirtan at all, but I had to do at least one book as it was Kartik. The streets were very empty and I was reconsidering my whole plan to do a book, yet trying to stop people. As I started to walk away, a guy came out of the shop typing away on his blackberry. His face was hidden under his hoodie but I thought I would try regardless. As he stopped and looked at me, he said he had met me before. He told me he had bought a big orange book from me 2 summers ago outside Bloor and Spadina. He even remembered the laxmi he gave me for it. I asked him if he read it at all and he explained that he wasn't so much into yoga but had taken the book for his sister. However he was trying to read and understand it and was some way through it. I was thrilled to hear that he had read it and invited him to come for our Gita workshops. He bought another book and left saying he would try to come see us.

Later I was thinking there is no way this is a co-incidence, how could he come out of the shop in the 5 minutes I was on a street so late in night. Probability can't explain this.

A new frontier

Earth’s population will cross the 7 billion mark by Halloween and Scientists predict that at some point, it would all be too much: starvation and disease would kill people more quickly than we can replace them. So the obvious solution is to discover new frontiers. Uncontrolled desires can never meet their end, be it on earth battered by human greed, or outer space. Recently I read research ideas presented at a government symposium devoted to ideas for visiting the stars. A scientist suggested “First, find an asteroid in an elliptical orbit that passes close to the Sun. Second, put a starship in orbit around the asteroid. If the asteroid could be captured into a new orbit that clings close to the Sun, the starship would be flung on an interstellar trajectory, perhaps up to a tenth of the speed of light”(NYT) So much endeavor just to search new resources for the further exploitation and hope for ‘sense gratification’.
What does Bhagavatam say?Persons who are actually intelligent and philosophically inclined should endeavor only for that purposeful end which is not obtainable even by wandering from the topmost planet down to the lowest planet. As far as happiness derived from sense enjoyment is concerned, it can be obtained automatically in course of time, just as in course of time we obtain miseries even though we do not desire them. (1.5.18)

In the purport Srila Prabhupada explains every man everywhere is trying to obtain the greatest amount of sense enjoyment by various endeavors.Some are trying to reach the moon or other planets by some mechanical arrangement, for they are very anxious to get into such planets without doing good work. But it is not to happen. Even if they are obtained, they can be lost again. One should not, therefore, waste time with these flimsy things; one should only endeavor to go back to Godhead. That should be the mission of everyone's life.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Looking for a home

I was at the corner of Yonge and College, one of the busy intersections in Toronto, and most people were simply zooming past me. That’s when a young girl with a smoke in her hand, stopped and turned back to look at what I had. She was really young so I wasn’t sure what to say. But I stuck with the basics and showed her the Bhakti Yoga. I had just read a beautiful note by Vijaya Prabhu about the ‘Dos and Don’t of Book distribution’ where Prabhupada explained that he wanted everyone to see pictures in his books as it would make them more curious. So I started to show her pictures and then requested her to take the book. All the while I was talking she kept appreciating the book but was looking at me with an empty stare and I could not quiet make out what it meant. When I requested her donation, she simply said ‘I am homeless’. I had a complete loss of words as the words just pierced my heart with shock. Gathering my wits I asked her oh, so do you believe in love or look for it. She gave a most definite yes and so I requested her to give me even a coin if she had it. She put a hand in her jacket and pulled out a begging coffee cup and gave me a coin that she had collected from begging. I gave her the book but could not check my emotions as she walked away. A quick look at some statistics showed that over 5000 homeless people in just the most affluent and industrial city in Canada. Actually who has a home in this material world, we were all living in homeless situations even when inside an apartment/house with what seems like a family. Had it not been for Srila Prabhupada’s powerful books and the magnanimous shelter of devotees, we would also be lost in the smoke screen of maya, wandering aimlessly through this life. Just like that little girl walking up and down the street with a smoke.

Srila Prabhupaa Lecture SB 6.1.25 Jul 1975 : Sanatana-dharma means when the sanätana-jiva, living entity, tries go to back home... That is our real home. Here it is not home. We have taken America as home. How long it is your home, sir? Say, fifty years, hundred years, that's all. Not this kind of home. So that home is eternal. That is called, therefore, sanätana.
Source Toronto.ca : If you include homeless people in Toronto’s correctional facilities, provincially run Violence Against Women shelters, and health care facilities, there were an estimated 5,086 homeless people in Toronto on the night of April 15, 2009, almost unchanged from the estimate in April 2006.
CBC News : Survey counts 5,052 homeless in Toronto

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Clearing the mind

I met a guy who was in a rush running towards the subway but somehow he agreed to stop and talk. I asked him if he had any experience with Yoga and Meditation and he said meditation but not yoga. So I handed him the Chant and Be Happy and showed him a picture of Srila Prbahupada. We discussed the book for a bit but then he said that his wife was more into meditation but he wasn't. Then he told me he can't read this book as right now he was suffering from inability to calm his mind. Noticing the rudraksh beads hidden under his jacket, I insisted that because he can't calm his mind, it is more of a reason that she should read the book. I told him how he can't solve the clutter in his mind by using his mind as he was proposing but instead he had to go to a higher level and the book would help him. He now started to understand and then unzipped his jacket to show me the beads. I tried to look surprised and asked him if he knew ho to use them. As he did not know I ask him to give me the beads and started to show him how to chant. He repeated the Mahamantra and took the book. He told me he lived far from the city and would tell his wife about our meeting and she may contact me.

Appreciation is the first step

I met a couple today as they were walking into the bank and surprisingly they stopped to talk with me despite the cold. The lady told me that a few years ago she had met me here and we had talked. I frankly admitted that I did not remember but was glad to meet her. As she expressed her interests in meditation, I showed her and her partner the Bhagavad Gita. She looked at me in disbelief that I was presenting her with the Bhagavad Gita. I requested a small donation and she pulled out some laxmi from her bag and gladly gave it to me. They were appreciative of Philosophy and said they would come back for a class.

Two years later we meet again

I was standing on Sankirtan completely unable to grab anyone's attention when a young Indian girl walked up to me and said Hi. Even though I recognised her at first I could not place our last conversation. Then she reminded me that two years ago we had met in the temple when I was trying to organise a program at my home. That's when I remembered that I had seen her one Saturday sitting in the temple and asked her to join me for Prashadam. After prashad I had explained to her how I was organising a program at my place and would be nice if she could come. She was in high school then and could not come on her own but now two years later we met again. She told me her parents volunteer at the temple sometimes but she had not read any of Srila Prabhupada’s books ever. She was now at University of Toronto and started to appreciate the Science of Self realisation. She had some laxmi left over from lunch and gave that to me for the book. I pray that she tries to read it.

30 year later

It was a rainy day and from under my umbrella I spoke with a man who stopped to discuss Srila Prabhupada's book. He told me hew knew all about the Hare Krishna and had our books. When I inquired further he explained that he had received a book with small globes on it at Union station in the 70s. From his description I could understand he was describing the Srimad Bhagvatam that he had associated with years ago. He started to ask me questions about some News about ISKCON he had heard in the 90s about the movement and we discussed his questions. I then presented to him a Bhakti Yoga as he already had most other books. Seeing Krishna on the cover he said he wanted to be like Krishna. I urged him to start from gaining knowledge about Krishna and once again he left with a book. Let us pray that this time he actually decides to visit us.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Victory is assured

"Among all the demigods, Brahmā was the first to take birth. He is the creator of this universe and also its protector. To his eldest son, Atharvā, He instructed the spiritual science of the self, which is the basis of all other branches of knowledge." Despite his exalted position, however, Brahmā still fears the influence of the Lord's illusory potency. Thus this energy seems virtually insurmountable. But Lord Caitanya is so kind that during His missionary activities in eastern and southern India, He freely distributed Kṛṣṇa consciousness to everyone, urging them to become teachers of Bhagavad-gītā. Lord Caitanya, who is Kṛṣṇa Himself, encouraged the people by saying, "By My order just become a teacher of Lord Kṛṣṇa's message and save this country. I assure you that the waves of māyā will never stop your progress." (Cc. Madhya 7.128)
If we give up all sinful activities and engage constantly in the sańkīrtana movement of Caitanya Mahāprabhu, victory is assured in our personal lives and also in our missionary efforts.

SB 12.13.10

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Make plans for Krishna - Urja Vrta

The auspicious month of Kartik is for Urja Vrata - that time of the year when devotees around the world encourage one another to make some vows for Krishna's pleasure - do a little extra.

I also made some small plans but last night on the very first evening I wasn't sure how to find the strength or ability to keep up my one tiny vow of trying to give a book a day. So I remembered Vishaka mataji's comment in a Bhagvatam class earlier this year. She explained that the strength to execute the vow comes from the vow itself. She further explained how when we are fasting even though we can't imagine going without food but the vow of fasting gives us strength.

So 9.30pm last night with my hands full and a few books on top of my hands, I had little hope of keeping my little promise but then Krishna reminded me of her nectar words and I prayed for help. So 2 girls stopped but didn't agree to take a book. Then when I gave up and started walking home, I saw a young Thai girl walk on my side so I mustered up courage to ask her. After a little conversation about how she doesn't like yoga, she revealed she was a Budhist and wanted to learn meditation. I started to show her CNBH and she rummaged her purse for a small donation. I felt a wave of excitement realizing its true, Krishna gives us the strength to even keep the small promises for his service through the shelter of his devotees and their words. So call your friends, make plans for service, discuss your vows and seek shelter of devotees to find the strength to keep them. Don’t be afraid, you don’t have to do it on your own strength.

The Nectar of Devotion -- Vrndavana, October 21, 1972: The best welfare activity is spreading this Krishna consciousness movement. So it was entrusted to the, to all Indians. Any Indian who has taken birth as human being; it is the duty of him to spread Krishna consciousness. But anyway, although there is only one Indian, (laughter) you follow, and, and spread this message extensively. After this ūrjā-vrata, you'll also spread this Krishna consciousness

Eternal rest or eternal engagement

The dream destination of material existence - 'eternal rest' is advertised enmass and so much money is invested in here. I saw an advertisement (refer picture) in the subway where Globe & Mail gets all trendy by saying 'Eternal rest is just a few clicks away' Ooooo all easy, sounds so convenient and nice.

But what is the Bhakti yogi's yearning ‘tathā prema-bhaktiḿ svakāḿ me prayaccha
na mokṣe graho me ‘sti dāmodareha’. Eternal rest or as yogis call it - Moksha is not the dream of a devotee. We pray daily during the month of kartik O Dear Lord Damodara, please grant me the gift of prema Bhakti, same as you granted to Nala kuvera, I do not desire moksha.

Our humble prayer is for eternal engagement in Krishna consciousness - that is why we are specifically called Hare Krishna 'movement' where there is the individual Jiva soul, Supreme lord and eternal activities to increase the love exchange. Hence we chant 'Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare’ begging Krishna for eternal engagement in devotional service. So let us please beg for more and more service during the month of kartik by chanting more and more. Materialists make so many plans for 'eternal rest' let's make plans for eternal engagement, not just engaging ourseleves but all those people who are busy planning for ‘rest’. Let us engage everyone through the power of Sankirtan.

Monday, October 10, 2011

A moments assciation

Last week I was at University of Toronto trying to hand out books to people and suddenly this young man stopped and started to talk to me about Srila Prabhupada and glorifying his books. He was a practicing Muslim who had recieved a Bhagavad Gita a while ago and was very appreciative of what Srila Prabhupada had to say. So I showed him a Krishna book and started to explain the various pictures. He was very attracted and immediately took the book. He started to explain to me how he was appreciative of what Srila Prabhupada said about Islam and later sent me an email.
I also mentioned that I accept and have great respect for Swami Prabhupada and Chaitanya Vaisnavism as a valid path to God, especially in this dark time of which we see so much quantity over quality... Once again, I am glad to meet others who spend the majority of their time invoking the Divine Name, even if a different form then the Islamic. I hope to come for a visit with some friends to the temple on Sunday in the future. Thanks again for the book and your time.
I had forgotten all about it but a series of sankirtan events today made me realize that there is no such thing as a chance meeting on sankirtan. I was walking on Yonge Street when I met a guy who was initially not interested but later agreed to get a SSR and requested me to wait for 10 minutes while he got some laxmi. I really did not want to wait as I was late but 9 minutes in, as I was about to leave I see the same man from University of Toronto cross the street and walk towards me. He started to talk like we were old friends and was appreciating the sankirtan effort. He lived in the same building as my friend and in conversations today it came out that a few years ago as he had entered the elevator of the building there was a Hare Krishna swami in the building and when a little later he returned, the swami had entered the elevator again. The picture was distinct in his mind and I could trace it back as I knew who he was talking about. We had a really nice second conversation within the same week and I started to realize that perhaps the sankirtan chain of events and a moments association with a Hare Krishna Swami is too hard for us to trace back and calculate the impact of!

And they lived happily ever after or did they ?

Often when offering a book to someone on Sankirtan, they may say ‘I am good’. I have often thought about this and wondered what makes people think they are good in material life – what could give this sense of comfort. Sometimes, at outreach engagements, people will debate the point about ‘happiness in the material world’. Think seriously – what’s the best material life can offer? What activities and options of endless joy, which is the real hankering of spirit soul, does material life offer? Srila Prabhupada summarizes it in a lecture on BG 4.18, April 7 1974 “Of course, in this material world there is no enjoyment. But with the hope of enjoyment, we agree to suffer. And that is called enjoyment.”
Still due to a lack of knowledge the goal of human life as understood by most people is money and attempts at sense gratification. How can one ever satisfy oneself without the knowledge of self, Supreme self and our loving connection with the Supreme self. Even if we seem to be successful at bagging the cheap thrills of material life – without knowledge and real experience of our loving connection with Krishna, it is good for nothing. Simply chewing the chewed can only grant bewilderment, not satisfaction – punah punah charvita charvanam(SB 7.5.30).

A recent article in Times of India, described how a young couple, in India’s dream vacation destination Goa, having lived an eventful life of sense gratification decided to end it. Their reason "We have lived a very eventful and happy life together. We've travelled the world, lived in different countries, made more money than we ever thought possible, and enjoyed spending as much of it as we could on things that brought us joy and satisfaction. We believe in the philosophy that our life belongs to us and only us, and we have the right to choose to die as much as we have the right to live."

They had lived the ‘materialistic dream’ but the end should make us think. Not only did they commit material suicide, they also lost the precious chance of human form of life. Without the knowledge of Bhagavad Gita little do people understand by that one push they hurled themselves, once again, into the abyss of repeated birth and death. So it is our duty, of course, as servant of Krishna, to awaken everyone to Krishna consciousness by this process of sankirtana movement

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The question of atonement (world we live in series)

Atonement is an age old quest of aspiring spiritualists in every culture and tradition. As people embrace a lifestyle of spiritual awareness or purification, one may start to realise the heinous nature of sense gratificatory activities one has indulged in and the guilt could be a heavy thing to carry. For the believers of Karma the realisation of the Karmic imbalance created can be scary sometime and a sense of urgency to get rid of the bad karma. So it’s but natural to try and look for means to clean the karmic slate and one such technique is shown in the gruesome images above.

So what method does a Bhakti yogi use to get over the bad karma? How do we atone? Indeed it is very noble of these monks to realise the power of bad karma and wanting to rid themselves of it, but what’s the merit in this process.

This same question of atonement was asked by Maharaj Pariksit to Sukadeva Goswami in the sixth canto of Bhagvatam.
Maharaja Pariksit said: One may know that sinful activity is injurious for him because he actually sees that a criminal is punished by the government and rebuked by people in general and because he hears from scriptures and learned scholars that one is thrown into hellish conditions in the next life for committing sinful acts. Nevertheless, in spite of such knowledge, one is forced to commit sins again and again, even after performing acts of atonement. Therefore, what is the value of such atonement? (SB 6.1.10)
Sometimes one who is very alert so as not to commit sinful acts is victimized by sinful life again. I therefore consider this process of repeated sinning and atoning to be useless. It is like the bathing of an elephant, for an elephant cleanses itself by taking a full bath, but then throws dust over its head and body as soon as it returns to the land. SB 6.1.11

In the purport Srila Prbahupada explains: In some religious sects a sinful man goes to a priest to confess his sinful acts and pay a fine, but then he again commits the same sins and returns to confess them again. This is the practice of a professional sinner…Regardless of how many times he is punished; one who is attached to sense enjoyment will commit sinful acts again and again until he is trained to refrain from enjoying his senses.

Sukadeva Goswami the son of Vedavyäsa, answered: My dear King, since acts meant to neutralize impious actions are also fruitive, they will not release one from the tendency to act fruitively. Persons who subject themselves to the rules and regulations of atonement are not at all intelligent. Indeed, they are in the mode of darkness. Unless one is freed from the mode of ignorance, trying to counteract one action through another is useless because this will not uproot one's desires. Thus even though one may superficially seem pious, he will undoubtedly be prone to act impiously. Therefore real atonement is enlightenment in perfect knowledge, Vedänta, by which one understands the Supreme Absolute Truth. SB 6.1.12

In the purport, Prabhupada sums it up by saying "Real atonement is full knowledge." And as we learn from the Bhagavad gita real knowledge is knowledge of self, Krishna and the relation between the two. Without which all attempts are just incomplete and further implicating.

Akarma means without reaction to work. The impersonalist ceases fruitive activities out of fear, so that the resultant action may not be a stumbling block on the path of self-realization, but the personalist knows rightly his position as the eternal servitor of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore he engages himself in the activities of Krishna consciousness. BG4.18

Power of sound

A young girl was walking buy me holding the hand of an older lady who looked like her mom and they seemed to be having a conversation, but they stopped to talk to me. I started to show them Prabhupada’s books and the older lady kept turning to the younger girl and they would speak to each other in an east European sounding language. I asked thought perhaps they were debating whether to buy it but the mother started to tell me in broken English that her daughter cannot see and the mother could not read or speak English. I realised how the whole time the daughter was translating and mother was describing visuals and that is how they were completing the experience. I told the mother even if you can’t read you should take the book as they are highly spiritual and will change the experience. They agreed to take it so I turned to the daughter and invited her to our events. I told her that by perfecting one sense, the sense of hearing she can achieve the perfection of all her senses. Explained to her the power of sound and hearing and told her to come to our classes for meditation and grow spiritually. She agreed to come for the cooking class as she was studying the health and nutrition program.

A 10 year journey leading upto Gita

An Indian lady was walking buy but she agreed to stop and talk briefly. At first I showed her the Chant and be happy and she said her husband had it. So I showed her the scienc of self realisation and she said she had it from a long time. Now I started to think she was trying to avoid me and cooking up stuff which people often do. But I wasn’t giving up before showing her every book as Vaisesika prabhu said show every book and they will take one. So I showed her the Bhagavad gita and she said she had the audio. Somehow the super soul guided me and I told her yes but your audio won’t have the purports which are the real jewel of the translation. She started to say that she was trying to read the Vedas online like the rg veda etc. I told her she did not have the life span of Sanskrit expertise to understand rg veda as it was not meant for us. I recited Srila Prabhupada verse from introduction to the gita sarva upanishado gavo dogdha Gopal Nandana and explained to her how Gita was the cream of all Vedas and she should read it. She started to inquire about how I got involved with everything and why. I told her just as fire burns irrespective of what you put in, doesn’t discriminate, similarly genuine knowledge burns the impurities in heart when you come in touch. I told her as she studied the Gita she would understand what I mean. She decided to take the gita and then as we discussed further, I realised that our meeting was just one in a series she had. She got the SSR 10 years ago from a devotee, then few years ago her husband volunteered at Toronto temple one day and got a Chant and be happy and then in Iskcon Bangalore she had got the audio of Gita – so today she bought the Bhagavad-Gita as it is.

Athatho brahma jigyasa

I met a girl and she was in a rush to go with her friend but stopped saying she was interested in Yoga. I started to show her the Gita and even though her friends went away she stayed on to discuss. She started to explain to me that she was recently studying Sanskrit in her Kundalini yoga practice and had the desire to go deeper in the language and it was strange to find the gita at the same time. While talking she started to express how something is missing in the world and how she thought that even though people are living we have created a world that is on the edge of breakdown and greater number of people wants to connect with divine. She told me how she came to university to get higher education and discover herself and grow, but the modern education only made people economically independent but there was no growth. I was amazed at her sharp observation and complimented her explaining that she has the right curiosity to make spiritual progress. Explaining to her that this inquisitiveness brahma jigyasa was the gift of human form of life and I invited her to the Friday night discussion at Bhakti lounge. She did not have much money and offered me her subway pass, my heart totally melted at this point and I asked her to simply come the next day. She gave me what she had, lets hope she can make it.

Global unity

One should not criticize a low-class materialist, thinking that a high-class materialist is nice. In other words, one should distinguish between the material and the spiritual and should not become absorbed in good and bad on the material platform. For example, an honest citizen distinguishes between the life of civil freedom and that of imprisonment, whereas a foolish prisoner distinguishes between comfortable and uncomfortable prison cells. Just as for a free citizen any situation in prison is unacceptable, for a liberated, Kṛṣṇa conscious devotee any material position is unappealing.
Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura indicates that rather than trying to separate conditioned souls by materialistic distinctions, one should bring them together to chant the holy names of the Lord and propagate the sańkīrtana movement of Lord Caitanya...Rather than praising and criticizing the high and low features of ignorance, one should be absorbed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, on the spiritual platform of eternity, bliss and knowledge.

SB 11.28.2

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A photoshoot

This Friday at Ryerson University I was slowly reaching out to people asking to see Srila Prabhupada's books. However somehow I was feeling low on energy and had cops come almost close several times. So I thought I would maintain low profile and prayed that Krishna give me some inspiration. Right then I saw two girls standing with fancy cameras and I started to show them Perfection of yoga and chant and be happy. They appreciated the books but when I asked them for Laxmi they didn’t have any. But then one of them came suggested that they would take picture of the book and publish in their magazine as they were 'student journalists'. Now generally I would never like to get even 1 picture clicked but these two had me open ever picture page in the book, hold it up to them from different angles and clicked pictures for 10-15 minutes. I asked them to print a few lines of the text and our contact address with the picture. I do not know if they will, but somehow unknowingly they just rendered service to the book Bhagvata. They left with a small book.

Six years later

I was near Yonge and College and it was the 5 pm time when everyone was in super super rush and no one really wants to stop. I had taken a few books from my bag and all but 1 the chant and be happy remained. I really wanted to give it to someone but no one would stop. Somehow in this madness a girl stopped and I kind of recognised her. She reminded me of our meeting at some our early programs over 5 years ago. She said she wanted to chant and was looking for something that would help her chant. Surprised, I instantly handed her the chant and be happy and explained the glories of how the simple book helps with meditation. She gave a donation and said she would come back for a workshop.

Rational Self and the mind

I met a girl at University of Toronto, she was in a rush running into class but she stopped to talk with me. As I was showing her a small book and she was appreciating it, I asked her what she studied. She told me was a double major in Pshychology and Human Genetics. Praising her intellectual abilities I presented her the Bhagavad gita as the book read by great thinkers. I showed her the picture of the 5 horses and the mind and explained it to her. She was happy to hear that and told me how in her pshycology class her professor had shown them the picture of elephant and elephant driver and explained that the elephant was the mind and the driver was the rational self and how its so small and cant control the mind. I could see from that one example how cofused students must be when they leave universities with such degrees. I asked her to study the Gita and she told me she would go get some money and be back. But a few minutes later she texted me saying she could not get the money but would visit us on friday for Gita class and get the book then. I didn’t think much of it but she actually turned up for the class and meditated with us and bought a Gita before she left.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Remembering Mahamantra Festival Celebrations!

From September 10 - September 20, the Hare Krishna Mahamantra echoed all around Toronto (and even went as far as Orillia!) as the Mahamantra week was in full swing! Devotees helped to celebrate this auspicious occasion of Srila Prabhupada's visit to US by sharing the holy name through kirtan, special morning calls, prasadam, books and smiles! Here we have a small video highlighting the mahamantra week celebrations!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Temporary and miserable world

Last evening near Yonge and College close to when I was about to give up, I saw a really tall lady and I thought she wont see me. To my surprise she cut across the pathway to come speak with me. I explained to her how I was sharing knowledge on meditation and showed her a picture of Srila Prabhupada. Suddenly her calm face changed and tears fell from her eyes onto her shirt - I actually saw them fall. Upon my inquiry she explained that she was just going through a very emotional situation minutes ago and this was just what she needed. She was appreciative of the content and told me she had no money but would go to her car and get some. I thought now she won't return and was timing myself but she did return and took books. She got all our program details and said she would visit us. Later on I was thinking how bleak is material life - you shed tears and there is so much pain. I asked her to chant Gauranga and. Explained to her that it was a name of God that gave all happiness. Whole experience reminded me of a bhajan by Bhakti Vinod Thakur :

māyā-jāle baddha ho 'ye, ācho miche kāja lo 'ye,
ekhona cetana pe'ye, 'rādhā-mādhav' nām bolo re

You are bound up in the network of Maya and are forced to toil fruitlessly. Now you have obtained full consciousness in the human form of life, so chant the names of Radha-Madhava.

Beggar or Director - a book for everyone

At university of Toronto a lady went past me and then returned curious to know what it was that I was selling. I told her I am not selling but sharing knowledge on yoga and meditation. Showing her a picture of Srila Prabhupada I explained to her what the science of self realization was all about. She said she was wanting to get more into all this and happily gave a donation. As she was leaving I asked her what was she studying on campus. She replied she wasn't a student but the director of health and nutrition for university of Toronto. I told her then the well being of students is in her hand and she should definitely use these books to that end. It makes me realize how these books are meant for the everyone - I have had beggars beg and collect laxmi to buy them at at same time a director in a prestigious university has appreciation for it. A book for everyone - all glories to Srila Prabhupada for such exemplary books !

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A second meeting

I met a young high school girl in Kensington market and while I did not remember her, she reminded me of our meeting a few months ago. Enthusiastically she told me that she had read the Chant and be happy and had read it. She told me she really liked it and had already got some of her friends to read it. Just that morning I was listening to a lecture where it was being explained how people who have already had some association with Srila Prbahupada books are very receptive, and here we had a person who was unknowingly dong sankirtan by asking her friends to read the book. So I handed her a Bhagavad Gita as it is even though she had said she did not have much money. She deeply appreciated the Sanskrit and took the time to understand the picture on Reincarnation. She told me she was not interested in religion even though she believed in God. She was raised Catholic and was very disappointed as people did not practice what they preached. I showed her the Guru Parampara in beginning of the Gita and told her how the message is lost when disciplic succession is broken. I showed her the section in Introduction where Srila Prabhupada explains the difference between Religion and Sanatana Dharma…I briefly explained it to her and she marked it in her copy so she could go home and read it. Vaisesika Prabhu had told us that Bhagavad-Gita is sold on its own merit and it was nice to see how she was reading and loving sections of it.

The English world religion is a little different from sanätana-dharma. Religion conveys the idea of faith, and faith may change. One may have faith in a particular process, and he may change this faith and adopt another, but sanätana-dharma refers to that activity which cannot be changed. For instance, liquidity cannot be taken from water, nor can heat be taken from fire. Similarly, the eternal function of the eternal living entity cannot be taken from the living entity. Sanätana-dharma is eternally integral with the living entity.

Representative of International Society for Krishna Consciousness

While I was trying to show people some of Srila Prabhupada books, a group of Asian students stopped. They were having fun but they stopped to look at our books. Suddenly one of them asked me - which organisation do you belong to. I somehow was not prepared for this question but magically I remembered the words of Mukunda Maharaj from my recent readings of his book 'Miracle on 2nd Avenue'. Automatically i repeated, I am a representative of the International society of Krishna consciousness founded by our Guru Srila Prbahupada and showed her a picture. She immediately accepted and all 3 took some laxmi out of their bags and gave me. While I was saying this, another person stopped and simply demanded a book. Suddenly having used these words I noticed people were stopping on their own to take books. It was an inspiring experience to see the power of repeating the words of disciplic succession.

A study of ancient worlds

I had some pain in my back so it was a little hard to stand. University was full of people - it was like Eaton centre. I was praying for Krishna to magically stop someone when a young man stopped as I was talking to someone else. First he stood patiently while I finished the previous conversation and then we started to talk about our books. I did not think he would be interested but I was up for a surprise. Behind his beard and big bag he looked very academic person so I was not sure how to present it but I decided to keep it straight. I showed him the chant and be happy and explained how it was a great book on meditation and helps us get over stress and anxiety. He agreed to take the book and gave me a small donation even though he had initially said he had no money. Upon my inquiry he told me he was studying Ancient civilizations at University. I immediately referred him to the Searching for Vedic India and started to describe how the book talked about ancient civilizations and was the work of deep research. He kind of looked at my face expecting me to speak more and I started to say whatever I remembered from having read the book. I started to talk about how the book describes the Dogons, the Mayans and many other civilisations. Being a specialist in ancient civilisations he stared to ask me detailed questions about the Dogons and how this was connected to what I was doing in terms of yoga. A long interview later he said he was interested in the book but I was not carrying a copy. So I asked him if we could meet later that evening near my home and I would give him a book. To my great surprise he came in the evening to get the book walking all the way from University. He started reading it that night and came next day to the Gita class. I was a little worried as to what I could say to such a student who was topping his class in study of ancient civilisations but the magic of presenting Bhagavad gita as it is - is really special. After the class, I showed him the Gita and started to explain it. He said as soon as he read a few lines he wanted it and took a copy of it. He then explained to me how 2 days ago when in University book store, he was attracted to the Gita there and bought it, but he had not read it. I told him to read as it is as it was written in the proper mood of devotion. I do not know whether he will return, but he indeed was a rare should who chanted, appreciated Bhagavad gita, ate prashad, and washed dishes - all in a short time. Please pray that he returns to deep dive into the philosophy of Bhagavad gita.

Watching the potent effect of Srila Prabhupada books reminded me of the introduction to the Bhagavad gita: Of course there are many commentaries in English on the Bhagavad- gita, and one may question the necessity for another one. This present edition can be explained in the following way. Recently an American lady asked me to recommend an English translation of Bhagavad-gita. Of course in America there are so many editions of Bhagavad- gita available in English, but as far as I have seen, not only in America but also in India, none of them can be strictly said to be authoritative because in almost every one of them the commentator has expressed his own opinions without touching the spirit of Bhagavad- gita as it is.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Cruising Through Downtown Toronto for a Double-Decker Bus Kirtan!

Submitted by Tara Voskoboynik

It's pretty normal to see double decker buses making their way through downtown Toronto with guides speaking to packed tourists about the sights and points of interest in the city. But imagine a double-decker bus, filled with colourful devotees, speakers, instruments and balloons as it cruises through downtown on a spectacularly special harinam! There was so much excitement in the air amongst Toronto's Hare Krishna devotees that everyone was talking about it during the time leading up to this special day!

The bus arrived and we started to setup the sound equipment and everyone was waiting for the glorious moment to go on the bus! While everyone was waiting, Sita Thakurani mataji lead us in Nrsimha prayers before boarding the bus. After some chanting. the moment finally came! We all jumped on the bus, blessed and protected by Lord Nrsimha to chant "Hare Krishna" all over downtown Toronto!

As the bus first made it's way through Yorkville, everyone on the street could hear the Hare Krishna maha mantra with, "Have a beautiful day, Toronto!" and "Hare Krishna Toronto!" being hollered in between. Indeed, as the bus was passing by Torontonians, faces were changing as people beamed smiles and hands waved to us as we passed by! The bus stopped at a few designated places and devotees, like spiritual sparks, brightened people's lives by jumping off the bus and sharing a book, having a chat or just giving away lollipops! :)

When the bus passed through the tunnel on Yonge Street... yes, the same tunnel that brought so many memories and excitement... the same tunnel that gets to be part of the most wild kirtan during our annual parade in July, all the devotees chanted the Holy Name louder and faster and the kirtan exploded!

After going from Yorkville, to Yonge-Dundas, to Harborfront, we made our way back to the temple and made one last stop at Yorkville. It was at this time that one man, wearing a bright yellow shirt and a bright smile, saw us and started dancing alongside the bus and crying out, "I love you guys!". He followed us all the way until Bay & Avenue. It seemed just like the descriptions of Caitanya Mahaprabhu's times wherein, during kirtans, everyone would hug each other and even animals would embrace. This man was hugging trees and dancing enthusiastically as he heard the names of Krishna over and over again! He kept waving to us the whole time. As the bus pulled away, we saw him climb up some stairs and bow down on his knees praying intensively! What an interaction and what a great way to see how the chanting of Krishna's names can touch people's lives.

It was a day full of smiles, chanting, waving, sharing knowledge of books and even lollipops and it all was successful due to the mercy of great spiritual teachers (acharyas) and the enthusiastic devotees! We're looking forward to next year's double-decker bus kirtan! Hare Krishna!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Glories of the holy name

Generally a human being is interested in religion, economic development, sense gratification and liberation, but love of God is above all these. A bona fide spiritual master chants the holy names—Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Räma Räma, Hare Hare—and the transcendental sound vibration enters into the ear of the disciple, and if a disciple follows in the footsteps of his spiritual master and chants the holy name with similar respect, he actually comes to worship the transcendental name. When the transcendental name is worshiped by the devotee, the name Himself spreads His glories within the heart of a devotee. When a devotee is perfectly qualified in chanting the transcendental vibration of the holy name, he is quite fit to become a spiritual master and to deliver all the people of the world. The chanting of the holy name is so powerful that it gradually establishes its supremacy above everything in the world.

Teachings of Lord Chaitanya Chapter 18 (Conversations with Prakashananda Saraswati)

Real remuneration

. Real religious remuneration means that one should serve saintly persons who can enlighten one with spiritual knowledge. One may offer remuneration to his spiritual master, who has enlightened him, by distributing the same knowledge to others, thereby pleasing the ācārya. Preaching work thus constitutes the highest form of remuneration.

S.B 11.19.36-39

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Great Hope

The strong conviction that one will certainly receive the favor of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is called in Sanskrit āśā-bandha. Āśā-bandha means to continue to think, "Because I'm trying my best to follow the routine principles of devotional service, I am sure that I will go back to Godhead, back to home."
In this connection, one prayer by Rūpa Gosvāmī is sufficient to exemplify this hopefulness. He says, "I have no love for Kṛṣṇa, nor for the causes of developing love of Kṛṣṇa — namely, hearing and chanting. And the process of bhakti-yoga, by which one is always thinking of Kṛṣṇa and fixing His lotus feet in the heart, is also lacking in me. As far as philosophical knowledge or pious works are concerned, I don't see any opportunity for me to execute such activities. But above all, I am not even born of a nice family. Therefore I must simply pray to You, Gopījana-vallabha [Kṛṣṇa, maintainer and beloved of the gopīs]. I simply wish and hope that some way or other I may be able to approach Your lotus feet, and this hope is giving me pain, because I think myself quite incompetent to approach that transcendental goal of life." The purport is that under this heading of āśā-bandha, one should continue to hope against hope that some way or other he will be able to approach the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord.

NOD chapter 18

Eagerness for achieving success

When one is sufficiently eager to achieve success in devotional service, that eagerness is called samutkaṇṭhā. This means "complete eagerness." Actually this eagerness is the price for achieving success in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Everything has some value, and one has to pay the value before obtaining or possessing it. It is stated in the Vedic literature that to purchase the most valuable thing, Kṛṣṇa consciousness, one has to develop intense eagerness for achieving success. This intense eagerness is very nicely expressed by Bilvamańgala Ṭhākura in his book Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta. He says, "I am eagerly waiting to see that boy of Vṛndāvana whose bodily beauty is captivating the whole universe, whose eyes are always bounded by black eyebrows and expanded like lotus petals, and who is always eagerly glancing over His devotees and therefore moving slightly here and there. His eyes are always moist, His lips are colored like copper, and through those lips there comes a sound vibration which drives one madder than a mad elephant. I want so much to see Him at Vṛndāvana!"

NOD chp 18

Monday, September 19, 2011

Begging for Krishna

The vānaprastha or sannyāsī trying to become free from material attachment should avoid those who are working day and night for sense gratification, approaching them only to engage them in necessary acts of charity. Those who are preaching Kṛṣṇa consciousness all over the world are understood to be liberated souls, and therefore they constantly approach the materialistic living entities to engage them in the devotional service of Lord Kṛṣṇa. However, even such preachers should strictly avoid contact with the materialistic world when not actually necessary for advancing the mission of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. The injunction is that one should not deal unnecessarily with the materialistic world.....In the Western countries people are generally so dull that they cannot distinguish between a saintly beggar and an ordinary hobo or hippie. A saintly beggar is constantly engaged in authorized devotional service to the Supreme Lord and accepts only what he requires for his bare maintenance. The author of this book remembers entering the Kṛṣṇa consciousness society as an arrogant university student and being quickly humbled by the process of begging on the street on behalf of Kṛṣṇa. This process is not theoretical but actually purifies one's existence by forcing one to offer respect to all others. 

SB 11.18.24-25

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A friend from Calgary

We were wrapping up our day at Kensington market and walking back when a nice devotee, Chloe, called me and introduced me to a girl she had just stopped. She was from Calgary and leaving town next morning. She was holding the Perfection of yoga that Chloe had given her. Chloe told me she wanted to know what is meditation and how can she practice it. This young lady was a junior Geologist in Calgary, very well read. I handed her the Bhagavad gita as it is and asked her to read it cover to cover as it explained everything she would ever want to know about meditation. She was impressed by the Sanskrit and the purports and the pictures and agreed to take the Gita. She still wanted to learn how to meditate. So we took her to the corner of the street and I started to show her how to chant japa in the middle of the street. She tried to chant with us and I requested her to go home and chant one round of japa everyday along with the study of the Gita. We exchanged emails and I showed her the address for the Calgary centre.

A rare chance

Last month I met young girl near Yonge and Dundas and at first she walked away, but then she turned around and came back to ask me what I had. She was just out of high school and very bright eyed young girl, inquisitive about transcendental knowledge. In first few minutes I saw cuts on her arms showing she was undergoing serious depression. But her face was bright; she was sharp and quickly understood some of the pictures in the Gita I tried to explain to her. She said she wanted to become a cop and eradicate drugs from the world but as of now she was living alone in the world. She took the Bhagavad gita and promised to keep in touch. As days went by she started reading the book and sent text messages about how she liked what she read. She lived far from the city and was waiting for a chance to come into town and visit our centre. Then few weeks later I got a message that she was in hospital counting last breath and funeral arrangements were underway. She had overdosed on drugs and never regained consciousness. Her friend agreed to honour her wishes and read from the Bhagavad gita at her burial and buried it with her. This Sankirtan experience gave me a close look into the madness that people live in this world and how rare is the chance for them to come in touch with Srila Prabhupada books. We never know who we will meet on Sankirtan and how much time they have. Surprising how Krishna in heart inspires one to turn around and come back to get a book.

Second book

I met a girl earlier this summer and she had bought a chant and be happy. Yesterday I ran into her again and she remembered meeting me. She told me she had completed reading the Chant and be happy and had liked it. So I handed her the Science of self realisation. As soon as I put it in her hand, without me saying a word, she asked how much it was. I asked her to give what she can and she immediately gave a donation and took the book with her. Once in touch with the book, people so easily take their next one.

A friend at every step

Approximately 8-10 months ago I met 3 people outside a major intersection in downtown Toronto. It was a cold and windy evening but I remember this guy, his girlfriend and his brother stopped to explore Srila Prabhupada’s books and they each took a book. I didn’t think much of it then but yesterday I ran into them again. They instantly recognised me and reminded me of their previous meeting. It took me a few minutes to remember everything. I started to ask them if they had read the book they took last time and he told me his girlfriend had read it completely and he was 3 quarters of the way through. I thought perhaps they were talking of a small book, so I showed them the Bhagavad Gita. This is when they told me that it was Bhagavad gita that they had read. At this moment I remembered the entire conversation from 8 months ago and felt great happiness in knowing they had read the Bhagavad gita. Their enthusiasm was obvious and it was like meeting old friends. The younger brother had studied the smaller books. He reminded me of how I had explained to him the picture of the chariot with the horses and to my surprise he remembered it all. So this time I showed them the science of self realisation and explained how it will help them understand the Bhagavad gita and they readily agreed. I requested them to visit us soon or we will keep meeting every few months.

As they left I had two realisations. One that we should preach directly the message of Krishna consciousness when we meet someone with even a little interest. If we just present the message as it is, people will remember it. It is transcendental knowledge not deteriorating with time, not like material knowledge that we forget overnight. Secondly, when someone gets a book a bond of friendship is established that becomes sweeter over time. If we keep distributing Srila Prbahupada’s books – we will have friends all over the world.