Harinama in Arbat Street, Moscow (Album with photos) Srila…

Harinama in Arbat Street, Moscow (Album with photos)
Srila Prabhupada: In the Adi Purana Krishna tells Arjuna: “Anyone who is engaged in chanting My transcendental name must be considered to be always associating with Me. And I may tell you frankly that for such a devotee I become easily purchased.” (Nectar of Devotion, 12)
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Touch of the Brajabasi: The Mendicant. “Like all great…

Touch of the Brajabasi: The Mendicant.
“Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.” ~ Benjamin Disraeli
Bhakti-lata Dasi: One day, three women set off to perform pilgrimage of Varsana – the holy land of Sri Radha. These women would journey through villages, mountaintop temples, and forests, and along the way, they would encounter an array of people – from temple guardians to beggars. Each woman would walk away transformed at the end of the day in unexpected ways.
One of those women was me. This is one way that I changed.
As we traveled, I saw my two companions, Bhanu Nandini and Rangadevi, give money to pujaris (caretakers) and to temples. I gave none. I saw my two companions engage in friendly rapport with the natives. I remained silent. I saw them glance compassionately upon beggars. I did not. I stuck to my attitude that I had to be the tough one for all of us. As we were obviously Westerners, to show kindness would be a weakness, instantly exploited. I refused to be naïve.

And then… she came.

It was mid-afternoon, and our traveling party was traversing a forest path strewn with ancient temples. We rounded a bend, and opposite the path of a quaint temple, an old woman sat on an upraised platform on the hillside. She wore a faded white sari wrapped like a toga and sat behind a little stand that held a large, ancient book. Her eyes were luminous behind her thick glasses. She softly sang from her book.

Ever the photographer, I whipped out my camera. As we approached, the old woman looked up. “No photo!” She scolded and hid her face with her sari. She then hefted her monkey stick and brandished it at me. “No photo!” I gasped and fumbled to stow my camera back in my bag. Let’s get out of here!

Bhanu and Rangadevi had other plans. They walked right up to the old woman and offered her some money to put in her battered beggar’s can. She accepted it warily. I held back in silence, still standing on the path while the two climbed up to the hillside where she sat. Okay, guys… time to go now. She’s still holding the monkey stick…

Bhanu then began to attempt conversation in her broken, spirited Hindi.

I remembered the way the woman had sung from her book… and suddenly I decided to open up, just a little. Soften, just a little. If Bhanu could, if Rangadevi could, certainly I could.

“Can we – listen – you sing?” I asked, miming. If anything could unite adversaries, it was the songs of God. The old woman looked at me with mistrust written all over her face. She bobbed her head curtly, and the three of us sat across from her.

“What is that?” Rangadevi asked, gesturing to the ancient book on its stand.

The woman seemed to soften. “Ramayan,” she replied.

The story of Lord Rama? I wonder why she reads Ramayan when she resides in Varsana, the land of Sri Radha.

“Mandir – “ she pointed to the little temple across the path. “Ramchandra,”

I was still a little mystified, but who says devotion to God must be restrained by time or place? “You – sing?” I ventured. I pointed to the book.

She hesitated, and then looked down to the ancient pages and found her place with her finger.

She began to recite the Ramayan. Her ancient voice transported me to ancient places and ancient people. I absorbed every sensation – how the golden sun infused her sitting place with light, the soft green of the trees, the dappled white and blue wall behind her that brought out her tattered white sari and dark leathery skin.

She continued to sing and sing, as if she couldn’t help herself, as if the three of us weren’t there listening. I closed my eyes and listened to the rhythm of Sanskrit. Her devotion to Lord Rama seemed to flow all around me and soften my heart.

Suddenly she stopped her recitation. I opened my eyes. She looked at me and said, “You – photo,”

My jaw dropped. “What, photo? Me?”

She nodded. I glanced to my companions and they only nodded vigorously, too. In shock, I fumbled with my bag and brought out my camera. The woman sat a little straighter and continued to recite. In her serenity, I took her picture.

A long time passed as we sat there and listened to the old woman sing the Ramayan. She did this all day, every day, and she would probably do so until she left this world. We had stumbled across her for only a window of time, catching a glimpse of her life, a drop of her devotion.

When Rangadevi softly interrupted that we needed to continue on our way, she nodded. I walked over and showed her the pictures of her that I had taken. She smiled, then, a wide, beautiful smile. I smiled back. Bhanu asked for blessings. The woman placed her hand on each of our heads, and she lingered on mine. I knelt to the ground and offered her my respects. I lingered, deeply humbled.

When our traveling party had moved on, I glanced back. And there she sat in the golden afternoon sun, singing to Lord Rama.

“Bhakti,” Bhanu murmured. “You were melting back there,”

“I know.” I shook my head.

“I know.”
More photos here: https://goo.gl/anUdDG

Puranic Time and the Archaeological Record

Hare KrishnaBy Drutakarma Dasa

Providing a strong challenge to established academic perception and methodology, Drutakarma Dasa presents the Vaisnava Hindu worldview on the fundamental concepts to the approach to and interpretation of the archaeological record. His presentation is articulate and thorough and the extensive research he has undertaken to support his thesis is very impressive. He contrasts the currently accepted time concept, which closely resembles the Judaeo-Christian model, with the ancient Puranic model and shows us how each tends to supports its own world view. But Drutakarma argues that the evidence offered by the archaeological record does not actually support the presently accepted model and thus questions its value in accurate historical analysis. Continue reading

Difficulties In Devotion: A Blessing in Disguise?

By Bhaktisiddhanta Swami

Srila Prabhupada, our most noteworthy example, established an international society amidst overwhelming physical handicaps or apparent setbacks that became a precursor to a worldwide society. Then there are his sincere followers, whose tests and trials amidst obstacles, have realization, trying their best to fulfill his will. Apart from what should be a ‘main concern’ of positives; victories, satsan.ga, kirtans and good times, let us examine the difficulties that we may individually/collectively undergo as we traverse the path of devotion in this present field. We may have an ax to grind with regard to an individual, guru, management, or society. Possibly, we may feel taken advantage of, manipulated, abused, and used within arenas that proclaim spiritual values, where material agendas have sadly arisen. Has politics pushed us into the background? Has our response to various scenarios been accommodating or reactionary? Do we focus on the grains of sand of ‘an event’ rather than the instructing panorama of the Lord’s arrangement with regard to an individual or collective? Continue reading

How Sumati Morarji fulfilled her father-in-law’s promise. By…

How Sumati Morarji fulfilled her father-in-law’s promise.
By giving Srila Prabhupada a free ticket to New York on the “Jaladuta” Sumati Morarji also fulfilled a promise that was given by her father-in-law some 40 years before. Narottam Morarji, the founder of The Scindia Steam Navigation Company and a prominent Indian businessman, promised to give his support and help to the Gaudiya Math preaching in the West. Unfortunately, he died in a car accident on November 5, 1929, a few years before the first Gaudiya Math preachers went to London. The main mouthpiece of the Gaudiya Math, a Bengali weekly magazine “Gaudiya” mentioned Narottam’s demise and his promise thus:

“Srila Prabhupada is now in Faizabad, staying at the home of Sripada Adhoksaja dasa Adhikari Mahodaya, where he speaks hari-katha and collects a lot of rare materials and information for the Vaisnava-manjusa [Vaisnava encyclopedia envisioned by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur] from the Faizabad Museum Library. When the fruits of all this research become available it will be a great achievement for the whole world. We read in the Allahabad newspaper “Pioneer” that a generous millionaire from Mumbai, a great soul named ‘Narottam Morarji’, who was a member of the Vallabha-sampradaya, suddenly left his body in Lonavla. At the same time we received a telegram from Kolkata informing us that the ruler of Bengal’s Kasimbazaar, Maharaja Sir Manindra Candra Nandi Bahadur left this world. Mahatma Morarji, despite being a member of the Vallabha-sampradaya, had promised to help Gaudiya Math’s preachers in their spreading Sri Caitanyadeva’s message in the Western countries. On account of this rare human life being so impermanent, Srila Prabhupada told us to remain awake in the service of Lord Hari at every moment without wasting any time.” (“Gaudiya”, 8th year, issue 14, page 222, November 16, 1929).