wedding day

June 5th, 2009

We were up at 2:30am to make it to New Varshan in time for the early morning sankalpa. New Zealand is cold.
Aghahanta prabhu had a fire roaring at home so we chanted there and then headed out to see the cows. Now just getting ready for it all. Big celebration. Festival time again…

35th Anniversary Festival

January 9th, 2008

We had a three day festival celebrating the installation of the deities here at New Varshan Dhama – Sri Sri Gaur-Nitai and Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra Maharani’s 30th anniversary, and Sri Sri Radha-Giridhari’s 35th anniversary.  The first day of the celebration was in honor of Sri Sri Gaur-Nitai and we all the good fortune of bathing Their Lordships.  HH Devamrita Maharaja spoke from the Sri Caitanya Caritamrita and led an ecstatic Gaura arati kirtan.  Many devotees gathered from far and wide and the mood was very sweet.  HG Bada-Hari prabhu led the devotees in the chanting of sweet bhajans for the pleasure of the Lords.

Beautiful Radha-Giridhari during Their puspa abishek (flower petal bathing)

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Sadhu-Sanga Retreat 2007/2008

January 8th, 2008

What can I say… I was blown away by this experience – over 80 inspired and enthused devotees gathered in the mountains of Otaki for 10 days of pure unadulterated Krishna Conscious association.  Headed by HH Devamrita Swami and accompanied by HG Bada-Hari prabhu and his wife HG Kosa Rupa prabhu, our days were filled with  endless Krishna katha, thought provoking presentations and ever-fresh ecstatic kirtans.  Oh, and lots of fresh air, beautiful surroundings and time to rest and recover for the dedicated sankirtan devotees after an intense marathon.   My repeated respects to all these personalities – I have never before encountered such a team – HH Devamrita Maharaja is expert in extracting the best – just like a swan can extract milk from water, he finds the right personalities and draws out the best in them.  Of course the surrender has to be there.

Unavoidable old age… we were urged to meditate on the realities of life in the material world

Yasomati devi dasi

About 16 devotees took initiation vows.  Syam Gauri dd is now a brahmin.

The cooks were very accomodating…

catering for all tastes and requirements

HG Urmila prabhu joined us for the second part of the retreat – Devamrita Maharaja and Bada-Hari prabhu stayed at Riverslea with the rest of the men, and Urmila and Kosa Rupa prabhus shared their wisdom and realization with the women at Waihonga.  The association of these great souls brought about a significant transformation for me and I am sure for many others. 

more realities… there really is a dramatic difference between women and men

A long awaited reunion with my mrdanga guru Caroline… and of course finally meeting the vibrant Syam Gauri.

Down by the riverside

Gaura Haven… the fruits of the labor of the Gaura Yoga devotees – their very own retreat center.

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New Zealand

January 8th, 2008

Finally, after being here for more than a month, I’ve managed to set up a way to get blogging again.  Syam Gauri’s encouragement to keep going helped speed things up a little. 

Anyway, here I am… at the beautiful home of beautiful Sri Sri Radha-Giridhari – New Varshan dhama in New Zealand… what great fortune.  My realization – wherever you may go, you’ll always find a home amongst the devotees of Sri Krsna, you’ll always find shelter at His lotus feet.  Another realization – no distance can separate you from the devotees of Sri Krsna, sankirtan connects us eternally.  Suvarna Manjari is singing and dancing, calling out to Krsna somewhere and I am singing and dancing, calling out to Krsna here, and somehow this connects us very deeply, very tangibly.  We can still share our realizations, our blissful experiences and our hearts, and still fully relate to each other, because we’re tasting the same nectar.

Much has happened, and I probably won’t be able to share it all, but I’ll try to post some pictures and more news very soon…

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Govardhana Puja in Cape Town

November 13th, 2007

Nitai and Tamalini assembled Govardhana Hill this year.  They had a brilliant plan to roll the halava into balls and dip them into carob. 

We made flowers, birds, trees, butterflies, parikrama footprints and pretty lotus kunds (thanks to Sharmila) to decorate the Hill. 

Suvarna Manjari made a giant hariball Govardhana Sila and I got to make Srimati Radharani.  The carob wouldn’t melt properly to coat Her in carob so I had to use gold dust instead (how appropriate). 

The festival was very enlivening.  Everyone was in a blissful mood.  Matthew’s T-shirt sums it up:

I love this picture of Suvarna Manjari… She is so bright – like a star.  She always brings more life to the party.

Three years ago on Govardhana Puja day Ivan was born – little Goavrdhana monkey.  He bounced around in the tree throughout most of the program.

The last big festival with my very dear friends for quite some time.  Soon I’ll be off to New Zealand… a new chapter in the Hare Krishna adventure.  I’ll keep you posted.

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return of Happy Cows

November 6th, 2007

Mayapurchandra and Suvarna Manjari have returned from their pilgrimage in India… they are very inspired and working hard at establishing a functional farm community in South Africa.  Meanwhile, after joining forces with Gunther, Happy Cows Srikhand is finally back in certain stores (mainly Spar at this stage).  We are all very happy about this.

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September 23rd, 2007

due to too many spam comments, I’ve decided to disable the comments option.  this is unfortunate, but what to do.  perhaps another solution will manifest at some point.

you know it’s kali yuga…

September 23rd, 2007

when a guest interrupts the pujari during the arati ceremony to ask for the matches to light her cigarette.

thankfully there’s always Lord Caitanya’s river of mercy…

and somehow we’ll all be swept away by it

Sri Caitanya Caritamrita

September 22nd, 2007

adi-lila 16:1

krpa-sudha-sarid yasya, visvam aplavayanty api, nica-gaiva sada bhati, tam caitanya-prabhum bhaje

I worship Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, whose nectarean mercy flows like a great river, inundating the entire universe. Just as a river flows downstream, Lord Caitanya especially extends Himself to the fallen.

The Voice of the Awakened Soul

July 24th, 2007

The awakened soul says in effect to the mind and body: “I am not identical with you. I do not want what you require. I have so long believed that I was identical with yourselves and that our interests were the same, but I now find that I am really and categorically different from you. I am made wholly of the principle of self consciousness, while both of you are made of dead matter. Being matter you can act and be acted upon by matter, under the laws of nature. Nature makes and unmakes you, but she has no power over me. I am not benefited by your growth or harmed by your decay. You grow and decay by the laws that govern your relationships with this physical universe. Falsely identifying myself with you, I find myself compelled to suffer pain and pleasure due to the physical vicissitudes and problems that overtake you. I find myself unnaturally yoked to your functions such as eating, drinking, producing thought etc etc and am forced to believe them to be my own functions by which I am benefited. I shall have, of course, to stay with you as long as it is intended by providence that I should suffer the consequence of this unnatural alliance with you. But I shall, from this time, do nothing to please you. I shall permit you to do only what I consider to be necessary for my well-being; that is getting back into my natural position of free conscious existence, unhampered by the unnatural domination by longing for material enjoyment. I refuse to be anymore a slave to the sensuous inclinations of the mind and body.”

by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur Gosvami Maharaja

The conditional changes of the living entitiy

May 30th, 2007

(from Lord Caitanya’s instructions to Srila Rupa Gosvami)

“The living entities all over the universes are enjoying the effects of the respective fruitive results of their own work, life after life. Out of all of them, some may be influenced by the association of pure devotees and thus get the chance to execute devotional service by attainment of taste. This taste is the seed of devotional service, and one who is fortunate enough to have received such a seed is advised to sow it in the core of his heart. As one cultivates a seed by pouring water to fructify it, the seed of devotional service sown in the heart of a devotee may be cultured by pouring water in the form of hearing and chanting of the holy name and pastimes of the Lord. The creeper of devotional service, so nourished, gradually grows, and the devotee, acting as a gardener, goes on pouring the water of constant hearing and chanting. The creeper of devotional service gradually grows so high that it passes through the entire material universe and enters into the spiritual sky, growing still higher and higher untill it reaches the planet Goloka Vrndavan. The devotee gardener is in touch with the abode of the Lord even from the material plane by dint of performing devotional service to the Lord simply by hearing and chanting. As a creeper takes shelter of another, stronger tree, similarly the creeper of devotional service, nourished by the devotee, takes shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord and thus becomes fixed. When the creeper is fixed, then the fruit of the creeper comes into existence, and the gardener who nourished it is able to enjoy this fruit of love, and his life becomes successful.”

The Potency of Chanting Hare Krishna

May 28th, 2007

Chanting Hare Krishna enables us to feel love, specifically for the Supreme Lord.  Chanting Hare Krishna removes sinful tendencies and selfishness from the heart.  Only because of the the chanting of Hare Krishna can we take to the process of Krsna Consciousness; by Vedic standards we don’t qualify, but the Maha-mantra removes all impurities and allows even the most degraded and low-born to come to the spiritual platform.

(inspired by Radha-ramana prabhu’s class this morning)

Bhagavatam bliss

May 24th, 2007

exceptional morning class today. Kobus prabhu is most certainly a genius. I wish I knew how to post lectures on this blog. one day…

so here it is… the secret to happiness in Krsna Consciousness: 1.Chanting attentively – as attentively as humanly possible – just keep dragging that mind back to where it belongs and don’t surrender to sleep. Finnish prescribed rounds before 7am. It works and this is realized knowledge. 2.Sharing KC with others – this becomes much easier if one sticks to point number 1.


Don’t forget this again Lilamayi!


May 4th, 2007

dramatically transforms consciousness

I went out a little yesterday. Nick Cave was singning his heart out in my head on the way there. I wondered where it came from… it’s been about ten years. After approaching some people and giving out some books I noticed that he had been replaced by the mahamantra in a particularly sweet tune with no effort on my part.

removes material desires and pacifies the mind completely

two immediate effects I experienced very clearly yesterday.

Book distribution is not included in my service, but I realized again why I want it to be. The solution: whenever I have a spare moment in between other services I will go out. I managed on my own yesterday, so I can continue like this.

Just take shelter of sankirtan Lilamayi…

Bhakti Yoga Society

March 31st, 2007

We wrapped up BYS for the term this Friday. Our last session was a cooking demo (the previous week we presented vegetarianism). For lunch I prepared Butter Paneer (a very opulent and wonderfully tasty preparation) served with basmati rice with pineapple and peppers, garden salad with a roast sunflower seed dressing, carob cake and berry&whey drink. I showed the students how to make the curd cheese that they were having in their meal. It was such a nice session, only about 6 students came as many are writing tests and studying now, but the mood was very relaxed and open. Everyone participated, eagerly discussing the Vedic culture and teachings as we waited for the milk to boil. They loved the fact that the drink we were having was made from the whey from the curd and that it has such a high protein content as well as being very refreshing. When the process was complete, I mentioned that we chant certain mantras to sanctify the foodstuff before tatsting it and then proceeded to chanting the mantras audibly in their presence. This led to another whole discussion on mantras and specifically some questions about the meaning of Krsna, Rama and Hare and also about the selfless act of preparing food with the proper consciousness as an offering to the Supreme Person. All in all a very enlivening session. Everyone was happy and enthusiastic and eager to return again later in April.

Vyasa Puja – Srila Jayapataka Swami

March 31st, 2007

Today we celebrated the appearance day of my spiritual master, HH Jayapataka Swami. The actual day for this, according to the Vedic calendar, was on Thursday the 29th of March, but it was not practical to celebrate it on that day, so I observed the fast and celebrated today.

The feast consisted of spiced rice, yellow moong dahl with fennel, cumin and ginger, spinach with curd cheese, a South-Indian style vegetable dish with greenbeans, zucchini and potato cooked in ghee with spices, coconut and sesame seeds, South Indian carrot salad, Dokla, Camphor and Pure Rose sweet rice, a beautifully decorated pecan and date cake, burfi and also some smaller preps – rich butternut soup and several savoury dishes as well as coconut fudge. The drink was a refreshing berry and whey combination.

It was non-stop activity from early morning till just now about 10:30pm. Somehow everything came together nicely. I felt so happy to be engaged the whole day solely in the service of my spiritual master. Everything was for him and I realized – this is how it always is, or should be – whatever I do, whenever, is a direct service to him. I was organizing the whole event (I’m one of only 2 disciples here in Cape Town, and the only one in the centre) so I had to run around co-ordinating things, making sure everyone had what they needed and was happy and comfortable in their service and also doing my share of the cooking, serving, singing, dancing, feasting and cleaning. It was pretty intense, but in a very nice way. I felt completely content and peaceful and very very happy. Serving the spiritual master is the highest type of bliss. Somehow, I was not concerned with myself so much, rather the mood was to serve and to facilitate others in their service. After everyone was satisfied I had some Prasadam and started washing up and scrubbing a mountain of pots, it was getting late, but it felt like this was part of the offering; wrapping everything up and making it complete. Somehow, by the mercy of my spiritual master, I was able to engage in his service in a joyful mood, forgetting myself for a rare few hours and experiencing some very nice realizations. I pray that I may be able to taste this kind of experience again, cultivate this mood and eventually function like this daily. Actually, being selfless gives much higher pleasure than attempting to arrange things for one’s own comfort and enjoyment.

Pretty soon we’ll be visitng Durban for the annual Ratha Yatra festival there. This is perhaps one of the biggest Ratha Yatra festivals in the world and the highlight of the year for the South African devotees. During this time we get to connect again with our very dear friends from other temples in the country. We also get to relish the association of about 10 to 15 Sanyassis, see the beautiful Sri Sri Jagganatha, Baladeva and Subhadra Maharani in Their chariot procession accompanied by the ecstatic singing and dancing of hundreds of devotees along the Durban beachfront. Morning program in Sri Sri Radha Radhanath Temple of Understanding (words can’t describe this place). Best of all – I’ll be seeing my spiritual master again, after a year of service in seperation.

It’s been a while…

March 5th, 2007

with all the festivals and other projects our small but enthusiastic team took upon ourselves, correspondence has been somewhat limited. So much has happened…

The last day of the Maynardville festival fell on Gaura Purnima. Krishna’s Village of Peace supplied a wonderful selection of vegetarian delights as well as gifts, books, gopi dots and henna designs. Best of all (in my opinion) was the continuous live bhajans. We had a little stage and sound system in our tent. The last night the rain was pouring down outside and people were pouring into our little village. From the stage I observed how the Mahamantra pacified the hearts of the public – everyone seemed drawn into the sweet syllables of the Holy Name. I could not drag myself away – remaining on the stage as the musicians rotated, I felt like I had been given a rare opportunity to connect with the Holy Names. Just that morning I had prayed to Lord Gauranga to allow me to chant always and also to let me realize the happiness of devotional service again (I had been feeling a little overwhelmed by everything recently). The bhajans just flowed on, becoming sweeter and sweeter. I felt such great happiness as I sat there singing, realizing how much had happened since last Gaura Purnima in Port Elizabeth, realizing how grateful I am to be here and take part in this amazing process and how all the difficulties and obstacles had been Mahaprabhu’s special mercy to increase my devotion to Him. It also struck me that Krishna very kindly reciprocates with anyone who tries to turn to Him. He is just waiting for us to turn our attention towards Him. All He wants is our love.

Acutally, I realized that all anyone ever wants is love. Love is all that is expected from me and that is the hardest to give.

The Gaura Purnima celebrations happened on Sunday. Today is a day for rest and recovery.