Goal for 2013 - 50,000 + books!

Last Update: Jan 31, 2013

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.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Mystic perfection through Sankirtan

"This material nature is working under My direction, O son of Kuntī, and it is producing all moving and unmoving beings. By its rule this manifestation is created and annihilated again and again." Similarly, Caitanya Mahāprabhu has given His command that people all over the world should take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. The sincere devotees of the Lord should go all over the world repeating the Lord's command. In this way, they can share in His mystic opulence of giving orders that cannot be counteracted.

SB 11.15.27

Friday, September 16, 2011

Miseries of life

I met a student from Ryerson and he said he was not interested in yoga at all. I still showed him the Bhakti yoga and he told me it was no use for him and asked me why he should get it. Then I remembered what I had read in Vijaya prabhu newsletter about Srila Prabhupada asking us to preach directly. Prabhupada said you should tell people these books will teach you how to get over the miseries of life. So building up strength, I told him these books teach you how to get over the miseries of life. I told him you are so young but you know what stress and anxiety is – these books teach you how to get over it. Surprisingly he took the book and then I spent the rest of the day telling people to get Srila Prbhupada books as they will teach you how to get over the miseries of life.

A second meeting

A few months ago I met three girls during the Pride parade in Toronto. One of them was aware of the Krishna book and had read it before. They were really young and in high school but all three of them very enthusiastically took a book each. Today at Ryerson University I met one of them again and she started to talk to me. She was surprised I remembered and I was too. She was so excited to meet me again because she had already read the Bhakti yoga she had bought. She said she liked it very much and it was a very refreshing read. She and her friend wanted to come see us and were surprised to run into me. I told her if she read the Bhakti yoga then she should read the Bhagavad Gita. I explained some of the pictures in there. While she really appreciated the pictures she said she didn’t have money. I kept on showing her and then she said she had just 5 dollars to buy a text book from someone but that other person was late. So she gave me the text book money and said she would come for the gita discussion.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Bhagavad Gita to Krishna book

I a few months ago, early spring, I met a young man in Kensington and he was very keen to hear about spiritual knowledge. I showed him the picture about the 5 horses, each representing a sense and how the mind is dragged around with these senses. He really liked that picture and he took the Bhagavad gita at that time. When invited to Bhakti Lounge he said he was too busy with work as he had really bad working hours. So a few months passed and then again I saw him yesterday at Kensington market and luckily I recognized him and we started to talk. I asked him if he had read the Bhagavad-Gita and he said he had read about 40 percent of it and it was a little hard to understand but he was getting it slowly. I inquired if he had a question and surprisingly he did have a question – he inquired as to why the Gita says that the intelligence can control the mind. So I tried my best to explain it him and asked him if he could visit us. He had a tough job for past 12 years where he works in the mental health department of the hospital and his shift is from 6 to 12 pm. So I gave him the Krishna book, showed all the beautiful pictures that he admired and requested him for a donation. He left with a Krishna book and send me this text message: Hello there its Joseph, it was nice to see you again! I wish I could come to one of the sessions because the few minutes I spent with you today was very educational. Thank you for the Krsna book. I have started to read it at work!! Have a wonderful day!!

From Tennessee to Toronto

I was in Kensington market where I met a man and he seemed interested in topics related to yoga. So I showed him the Bhagavad gita and he explained he had a copy of it. I showed another book and he had that too and then I showed the science of self realisation and he had that too. I asked where he got them from and he explained that he had been to a music festival in Tennessee where he met a young devotee who gave him all three books. Due to his past experience he was already favourable and appreciative of Srila Prabhupada books. So I showed him Nectar of instruction and he took that one too for a small donation.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Maha Mantra Festival:- Sep 10-20th

On September 18, 1965, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada got off the ship 'Jaladutta' and stepped on the American soil. The rest is history. After Srila Prabhupada came to the US, within 12 years he was able to establish over 100 temples, and inspire thousands of followers, sharing with them the strength of the Hare Krishna Maha-Mantra! Today, International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) has grown to a world-wide confederation of over 500 centres around the world!

Starting Sat, Sep 10th, ISKCON centres all over the world will celebrate the arrival of Srila Prabhupada in the West 46 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 10 days of non-stop activity as the MAHA MANTRA FESTIVAL! We encourage you to make the most of this occasion, participate in the numerous activities, help organize them and most importantly - spread the word around!

Daily Highlights:

* Morning Conference Call readings: daily from 7:15am to 7:30am (starts Sat, Sep 10th) From the book - Sri Namamrta, the Nectar of the Holy Name - the perfect way to start your day!
Conference line dial-in: 647-847-1525; Passcode:- 6118889#

Special events during the Maha-Mantra Festival (Sep 10-20th):

* Double Decker Bus Harinam: Sat, Sep 10th, 1:00pm to 5:00pm (pre-registration required)
For the third year in a row, the popular bus harinam is back! Enjoy the chance to do kirtan aboard a double decker bus as we drive around Toronto. For a modest fee of $25 for the upper level and $10 for the lower level, get your tickets fast as seats are limited!

* Srila Prabhupada Movie Night: Thu, Sep 15th, 6:30pm to 8:00pm
Movie night about Srila Prabhupada with popcorn and juice at the Hare Krsna Temple!

* Downtown Street Harinam: Fri, Sep 16th, 6:00pm to 8:30pm
Harinam down the streets of Yorkville, the heart of the International Film Festival! (meet at the Hare Krsna Temple)

* Sankirtan at Beatles Festival in Orillia: Sat, Sep 17th, 7:00am to 9:00pm (pre-registration required)
Opportunity to share the holy name, prasadam and books at the famous Beatles Festival in Orillia!

* Grand Finale Kirtan & Pizza Party: Tue, Sep 20th, 6:00pm to 9:00pm
An extremely grand way to cap off 10 days of fun and bliss with a special kirtan night at the Hare Krsna Temple!

It is going to be busy & fun 10 days, and we hope to see you at these events!

Friday, September 2, 2011

An encounter in Vancouver

Arriving here in the beautiful Radha Madan Mohan temple in Vancouver I was waiting for the deity doors to open. So I sat near Srila Prabhupada and started to chant. Japa was really nice but i could see a young indian girl walk in with her father and they both sat in the corner while i continued to chant. As I was chanting, something in my heart was nagging me to go and talk to this girl. So to my big surprise I stopped japa and went to talk with this girl. I was little nervous as I knew no one in temple,  but something pulled me in her direction. We started to talk and she explained how she wanted to know who she was and do some good to world but dudnt know where to look. I remembered how I had recently read in the introduction to bhagavad Gita Srila Prabhhupada explain that this inquiry is primary to human life and called it Brahma jigyasa. So I requested her to read that paragraph and as soon as she read that she was hooked. I asked her and she agreed instantly to buy the book. We continued to talk and went for a walk in the beautiful gardens of vancouver temple. She started to explain how she was 24 and just out of a 2 year relationship and had seen devotees chanting on street and one devotee had told her 'soul is eternal' and she was very attracted to this and it made her come to temple. She had been coming to temple for 3 weeks and appreciating surroundings but she had not spoken to anyone yet. Just her appreciative attitude had made her so favourable. We sat together and made her read aloud sections from bhagavad Gita and nectar of devotion that spoke about her problems of identity and love. She explored japa and promised to come back in 2 days.let's hope she does but it was nice to see how slightest appreciation for Krishna's devotees completely changes the direction of one's life.