Sunday, November 30, 2008


Today after so many days, I had a few hours to myself! JAIHO! So Apurva Nilacala and I decided to make use of the time to go to the various pastime places that are close by to Mayapur Chandradoya Mandir.

First stop was the Yoga Pith. I had never been to the Yoga Pith before and it was just so amazing to be at the actual birthplace of Lord Caitanya. The deities there are also so beautiful. The style of deities here in Navadwipa is gorgeous as most deities are made out of neem and they have such a unique style and mood.

As it was my first time going there, I was trying to really be in a prayerful mood. For the past few weeks HH Mahanidhi Swami has been giving classes on Caitanya Bhagavat and he said something really wonderful about the pastime places that we visit. He said that the reason why devotees go on parikramas and yatras is to actually go and beg the dust in those holy places to give us the eyes to actually see the unmanifest pastimes that are still taking place today. It is that dust that was witness to the pastimes that took place over 500 years ago and therefore it has the potency to give us the vision to see those pastimes today.

So trying to remember that, I was praying to the dust at Srivas Angam (the next place we visited) to please give me the vision to see the ecstatic kirtans that Lord Caitanya is participating in.

After Srivas Angam we went on Govardhan Parikrama! We went to the bhajan kutir of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur, Govardhan hill, Radha Kunda and Shyama Kunda. Mayapur dham is non-different from Vrndavana and Bhaktisiddhantha Sarasvati Thakur said that if one circumambulates the smaller Govardhan here in Mayapur 7 times it is as good as doing the full Govardhan Parikrama in Vraja. Jai! So we sang a few verses from the Govardhanastakam and then sang Jaya Radhe Jaya Krishna while circumambulating Govardhan about 9 times.

After that we went and took the waters of the topmost of all places in the world: Radha Kunda. It was so wonderful and it was just the time to chant gayatri, so in the scenic and peaceful atmosphere of Radha Kunda we both chanted gayatri. After that, I remembered what HH Niranjana Swami did a few years ago when he was in Radha Kunda. He paid obeisances there for many many minutes just praying and asking Radha Kunda to bless all the devotees. So trying to follow in his footsteps I was praying to Radha Kunda to bless all the devotees that I know.

After that we visited Shyama Kunda and once again took drops of water on our heads. Here I was praying and praying that Shyama Kunda would give me attachment and service to Radha Kunda. That concluded our morning "yatra" and this afternoon we'll be heading over to the Jagannath temple.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A lesson in Service

As I previously mentioned, this week I had the nerve-wracking and incredibly ecstatic opportunity to perform my 16 upacara assessment in front of HG Jananivas Prabhu. For those who don't know, HG Jananivas Prabhu is the head pujari here in Sridham Mayapur and for me he is the ultimate role model in devotion to the deities and in his behavior as an extremely dear devotee of Sri Sri Radha Madhava. Just being in his physical presence is enough to melt stone and so my iron heart is being slowly chipped away. Everyday I learn something new and relevant that I can apply in my dealings as an aspiring devotee.

I was fortunate to learn an extremely valuable lesson this past week. After my assessment, Prabhuji was distributing the mahaprasadam that I had offered during my worship of Sri Sri Gaura Nitai. I was one of the last devotees to hold out my hand so that I could receive a piece of fruit from this wonderful devotee when he looked up and saw that it was me and stopped and said, "You got to do the service, that was your reward." But despite saying that I still received a piece of maha from him. :D

But that one small sentence he said...I don't know why but I just kept meditating on it. It affected me so much. "You got to do the service, that was your reward." After meditating and meditating on it I realized that Jananivas Prabhu was saying indirectly that as a pujari there is no need to be "extra hungry for mercy."

See, the pujari has the extremely rare and privileged opportunity to render such intimate service to the Lord and at the same time has very close access to those "maha pieces of mercy" that everyone is extremely greedy to get. But one of the qualities of the pujari is also compassion, not greed. The pujari is a very dear preacher of the Lord in his/her own right. The pujari preaches by making sure the Lord is being served very lovingly, that the Lord is being dressed beautifully so as to attract the visitors who come to the temple and most importantly the pujari is the one who can give the maha prasadam of the Lord.

So it is the duty of the pujari to ensure that everyone else gets the maha prasadam of the Lord (whether it be in the form of maha foodstuffs, garlands, paraphernalia etc...), he/she should not be greedy and think "I have access to all this maha! Wonderful! I can take it all for ME!!!" That attitude is not pleasing to the Lord and it is also reveals a very selfish attitude. AS A PUJARI YOU GOT ALL THE MAHA MERCY ALREADY! You got to serve Krishna personally!!!! Krishna is much more happy if you distribute the mercy as opposed to hording it all up for yourself as a miser. Jananivas Prabhu shows this so beautifully by his example. He NEVER EVER EVER sets aside any maha for himself but is always so happy to distribute it to others.

Of course one may try to argue but even as a pujari "I am so fallen." Yes, that maybe true, but consider this: You maybe fallen but Krishna still allows you to serve him so personally. What about all the others who don't have that opportunity?" Still feel as though you are "the most fallen???"

I feel so fortunate to be the recipient of such a valuable lesson and I pray that I can apply this lesson in all my services.

My Role Model and Teacher -HG Jananivas Prabhu

Friday, November 28, 2008


It's been a busy couple of days. Between classes and preparing for the 16 upacara assessments and the morning program and rounds its been VERY hectic! This week we started to look at how to put together turbans in our dressing classes. We started learning the art of "how to arrange mukut pieces."

In the picture above, Amrta Sakhi, Apurva Nilacala and I are trying to evaluate where this mukut piece would fit without making looking the "paper turban" too heavy. :D

That was a nice reprieve from the memorizing and constant practicing for the assessments on offering the 16 upacaras to Sri Sri Gaura Nitai. The assessments began yesterday and I was the second person to go. It was a bit nerve wracking as the first two people had to perform their worship in front of the entire class, Jananivas Prabhu, Pankajanghri Prabhu and Nrsimha Kavaca Prabhu. Due to the mercy of all the devotees it went really nicely and now it is really relieving and wonderful to watch all the other devotees go through their assessments.

Check out all the ingredients and items that we use!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Don't Take Krishna Out of Vrndavana!

Today we had an incredible class on the glories of Tulasi Maharani (Please visit to find out more details about the class).

As we were listening to the class and were hearing about how exalted Vrnda devi is and how she is the personification of humility, Jananivas Prabhu said something really interesting that caught my attention. He was describing how Krishna never leaves Vrndavana. He also mentioned that anyone who claims to be a devotee will never take Krishna out of Vrndavana.

That got me thinking. Srila Prabhupada was so munificient and magnanimous that he brought Vrndavana to so many places around the world. In fact, we are often told that Vrndavana is not just a physical location but a consciousness. Our temples, in particular, should be Vrndavana. That got me reflecting even more. Do we as individual devotees help to contribute to the Vrndavana atmosphere in our local temple?

When we go to the temple our attitude should become, "How can I serve the guests and wonderful vaisnavas." Instead sometimes we find that the temple becomes the "social scene." LOL! Our material inclinations and tendencies that we try to leave behind tend to creep up even in our devotional practices and activities. I know that I am guilty of just "hanging out with my devotee friends at the temple." Not really talking or thinking of Krishna but just talking about all sorts of unrelated topics.

But this point of "If we claim to be a devotee, we should never take Krishna out of Vrndavana" got me really thinking. What more can I do in my local temple to help Krishna feel "at home-in Vrndavana." Sitting here reflecting it comes to me that it means that I become more Krishna-centred and less self-centered. Being here in Sridham Mayapur constantly hearing about Krishna, I am begining to experience some glimpse of how happy one can truly be when one just focuses on Krishna and less about one's own self.

Wishing all of you success on making Krishna feel at home-in Vrndavana.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Who Can I Go To With My Desires?

I have to confess. When I'm at home I don't normally read or hear Srimad Bhagavatam daily. I'll try to listen to lectures daily but that habit of reading and hearing Srimad Bhagavatam (specifically) is something I've never really done.

But after listening to Srimad Bhagavatam class here in Mayapur for over two weeks and studying the fourth canto I've become addicted! The jewels that come from the Bhagavatam are so relevant and important in our lives. Sometimes I have felt "How can the instructions of the Bhagavatam be relevant to me today, in Kali-yuga?" This morning I got an answer to that question- "Just as Bhagavatam is coming from Krishna, isn't Kali-yuga also coming from Krishna?" WOW! I had never thought of it that way. Yes, this is true. In that case since Krishna is the supreme and perfect teacher, wouldn't he ensure that whatever lilas he enacted and words that he spoke be relevant and not be subject to the limitations of time?

If we accept that as the basic premise, then the Bhagavatam becomes this chest of knowledge that can help us with every single aspect of our lives.

Take for example Kardama Muni praying to the Supreme for a good wife. One could argue that it was wrong for Kardama Muni to pray the Lord for something that could be categorized as a "material desire." But we also hear that the stories narrated in the Bhagavatam are those of the great devotees of the Lord. If that's the case how can a great devotee be praying to the Lord for material things?

This is the beauty of the Bhagavatam because just as we can perceive that devotees are on different levels, similarly the Bhagavatam shows us examples of devotees on different levels and the progression of such devotees. That's why we only hear about the vrajavasis, the top-most of Krishna's devotes, all the way in the 10th canto. That's why we are also encouraged not to "skip" cantos.

So although Kardama Muni is a pure devotee, through this lila he is teaching someone like me a very important lesson. Even if I have a material desire, I should take it to Krishna for it to be fulfilled. Trying to satisfy my desires on my own doesn't work. Believe me, I've tried! At the same time I shouldn't take the attitude of, "But it's a material desire and I shouldn't approach the Lord to ask him for material things." That's also an incorrect attitude. Why is it a wrong attitude? I heard a great analogy this morning with respect to this which I'd like to share.

Grade 1 math is not very difficult, right? Introduction to calculus at the university level is definitely quite advanced. But in order to do calculus we need to understand grade 1 math. So similarly if I want to get to the stage where my desires are centered on Krishna and not on myself I need to start somewhere and going to Krishna is a great place to start. If I go to Krishna with my material desires at least it shows Krishna that I at least recognize that I do not have any capacity or ability to fulfill my desires and that I am dependent on him.

In return, when an aspiring devotee turns to Krishna (and most devotees have had this experience) he tends to satisfy your desire in such a way that you will never want it again. Alternatively he satisfies your desire in such a way that it is very beneficial to your advancement in Krishna consciousness. In this way we can slowly graduate to the point where we will approach Krishna and only ask him for service to his devotees. Nothing more.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Regulated routines are boring...

Ever feel like its just absolutely impossible to get to bed at a decent hour so that you can wake up early in the morning and chant some really good quality rounds?

I'm sure every aspiring devotee has gone through that phase. And that's exactly what it is for some...a phase. But for others (shudder!) it seems like a way of life that they desperately want to change but can't! Or perhaps you don't even belong to that category but belong to the category of "But that means I need to have a regulated routine and that's boring!"

Well....I belong to a bit of all three! For sometime I was quite regulated and even when I was living in Toronto managed to wake up at 4:30am and get at least 12 rounds done before heading off to school. That lasted about 2 months and then I got heavily involved in service and I started going to sleep later and later and later and sometimes got no sleep at all!

Then this horrible thought came into my head and implanted itself there for awhile. "Having a regulated schedule is so boring and it makes one so rigid and unbending. It means that one has to give up service opportunities and just BLAH!" LOL!

Coming to Mayapur, I go to sleep most nights latest 9pm, on average I go to sleep at 8pm! I have NEVER gone to sleep so early in my life! EVER! Sometimes I feel like I've regressed to being a 1 year old or fastforwarded to 80.

But its amazing. By going to sleep so early, I wake up like clock work at 3:30am. This allows me to get ready by 4-4:15am and get some rounds done before mangala aarti. And my biggest worry about boring- YAH RIGHT! Everyday is new and ever-fresh. Each mangala aarti is so unique, each darshan aarti, each Bhagavatam class and each day's events.

Regularity really also does wonders for one's consciousness. One has direct experience of being able to distinguish the mind's crazy demands and use the intelligence to curb its (the mind's) wild antics.

Of course there is always the argument, "But it's so much easier being in the holy dham." Yes, that is definitely true. But there are so many wonderful examples of devotees worldwide in huge metropolitan cities that lead regulated lives. We can take inspiration from all of them. Without good rounds and without regular hearing of Srimad Bhagavatam it's scary to think where our consciousness will be.

So regularity = boring? Not really. It's all a matter of consciousness. I choose to think regularity = a means of preparing my consciousness to think of Krishna as much as possible during the day.

Friday, November 21, 2008

My Usual Spot....

It's been a shade over two weeks now since I've been in Sri Mayapur Dham. I have been fortunate enough to attend mangala aarti everyday I have been here so far. I pray that this will continue! Being a creature of habit I've now fallen into a pattern as to where I stand during mangala aarti.

Needless to say mangala aarti here is very special because the aarti for both Panca Tattva and Radha Madhava take place simultaneously. But this also poses a bit of a problem since I can't expand and be in two places simultaneously. So this is what I do.

I begin mangala aarti by standing at the back of the of Radha Madhava's temple room. Why so far to the back? Because there is such a wonderful view of Radha Madhava surrounded by the astha sakhis. There I stay for half of samsara dava...up to the part where we sing Sri Radhika Madhavayor apara and then pay my obeisances and head off to see Panca Tattva. I stay there until the pushpa (flowers) are offered to the Lord and then head back to Sri Sri Radha Madhava and go right up to the front to get extra close darshan. This is perfect because by the time the aarti is over there is a mad dash to the middle of the temple room to take darshan of Sri Sri Nrismhadeva.

Complicated, yes a bit! But I get to have wonderful darshan of all their Lordships and its such a wonderful way to begin the day.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

New Blog to Check Out!

The Mayapur Academy for Deity Worship now has its own blog up and running! Everyday a student gives a writes recap of what students learnt and practiced that day. So please check it out at:

This is a great way to vicariously experience what the students are learning, get a better idea of the courses and topics that are taught and find out more information about this incredible program.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Applying sastra to your life...

The past couple of days have been simply incredible. Every night from 5-6pm, HH Mahanidhi Swami is giving classes on Caitanya Bhagavat. Maharaja is such an excellent speaker and the way he describes the pastimes, one can't help but be pulled into the lilas.

One thing Maharaja was speaking about really fascinated me though. Most devotees are familiar with the terms adiatmic, adidaivic and adibhautic. These normally refer to the klesas or miseries that one undergoes due to one's own mind/self, the demigods and other living entities, respectively.

However, these three different perspectives, one can say, can also be used to consider and view sastra.

-Adiatmic vicar refers to examining sastra in terms of WIIFM (what's in it for me!). This refers to how a pastime or lila can directly apply to oneself, living in present day 2008.

-Adidaivic vicar refers to the examination of sastra from the Lord's perspective.

-Adibhautic vicar refers to the elements of the story.

This is such a wonderful way to follow Srila Prabhupada's instruction of looking at sastra from all view points and perspectives. So next time you hear a pastime or lila try looking at it from these perspectives, you might get a wealth of realization.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Long acaman procedure

And so the first week of the Deity worship course has come to an end for me here....and what do I have to show for it...well...I can now do the long acaman procedure!

What is acaman? Well if you asked me this a few weeks ago I would say it's to clean your hands and the long version seems to be this extremely complicated and convoluted process with lots of mantras and symbols! But now, I have a much better understanding. Acaman is not about ONLY washing your hands...but it's about purification. And the mantras that you chant along with doing it...they are the most important element in the process. In fact I didn't know this before (and I would hazard a guess that perhaps there are one or two of you out there who may not know this either) but when putting the drops of water in your hand, you're supposed to look at the water and chant the mantras into the water. Otherwise there is no use! It is the mantras that purify the water, and upon sipping that water it can then purify you. Acaman is a way of purifying oneself on the subtle level and is also a means of purification when it is not possible to take a bath.

So whether you are doing the long or short version, remember that the purpose is purification. This way, no matter what we do for Krishna, we can try to do be as pure as possible and therefore serve Krishna the way he likes to be served.

Diwali at the Washington National Cathedral

Wow! It seems like Oct. 28, 2008 was years ago although its barely been a month. What was Oct. 28, 2008 you may ask....well for many around the world it was Diwali and for me specifically it was an incredible opportunity to associate with some incredibly talented devotees and do the thing I love most: sing!

Along with Gaura Vani and many other devotees who are part of As Kindred Spirits, we had the opportunity to lead kirtan at the Washington National Cathedral. This was all due to the hard work and efforts of Rukmini prabhu as well as Grace Ogden (our contact at the Cathedral). For those who don't know, the Washington National Cathedral serves as the official house of worship for the entire USA. So it was quite an honour to be invited to come inaugarate the celebration of Diwali at there.

Check out the pictures and recordings which are up at:

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Mayapur reflections...

We may have read about, dreamed about and prayed for the opportunity to experience what we read in sastra....about the cintamani gems of the spiritual world that fulfill all desires. Well....after years of searching I found it. Here in Mayapur. Really and truly.

The past few days here have been...well, indescribable! Its been a mixture of a little apprehension, a lot of excitement, a lot of gratitude, and a lot of prayer. The thought of four months in the holy dham for a city dweller definitely can warp one's mind a bit!

Already I have started to realize what an intensely passionate person I am. I just can't seem to sit in one place for too long without thinking that I should be doing something else and these past few days before I start the deity worship course, I've realized how much time I have and how much of it I normally waste! Here, despite my little trips to to the internet cafe, most of the time I chant, read, go see the deities or speak to devotees. That's my life. It's so simple and uncomplicated! It's so uncomplicated that I actually try to complicate it! Such is my restless nature!

But slowly, slowly the dham's magic is working away at this stone heart of mine, starting to chip away and starting to reveal that "hey, I actually have one or two spiritual desires!" For example, I wanted badly to go on parikrama for the past couple of years. This year I was hoping to go on the Vrndavana yatra but this amazing service opportunity came up to sing at the Washington National Cathedral (something I'm hoping to post next time) and so I decided to come to India later. But irregardless, just having that desire was enough and where did I find myself today? Joining in on the last couple of days of HH Romapada Swami's Mayapur Yatra! WOW! So amazing.

And so today I got to go to Champahasti where the beautiful Gaura Gadhadhara deities stand that belonged to Gadhadhara pandit's younger brother and is also the place where Jayadeva Goswami resided for sometime. Such an intensely spiritual and beautiful place. After that we headed to the temple where stood the deities of Nakula Brahmachari who Lord Caitanya personally empowered. Finally the last stop on our tour was Ambikakalana- the place where the beautiful Gaura Nitai deities of Gauridas jumped off the altar and joined in the Gaura Purnima festivities that Gauridas and his disciple Caitanya das put on. And when the deities started to run away, Gauridas started chasing them with a stick and where did Lord Caitanya hide? But in the heart of Caitanya das who later became known as Hrdaya Caitanya. Such an amazing pastime and even more amazing to actually be physically present in these beautiful lila sthanas.

I feel so intensely fortunate to be able to be here and experience this magic, this cintamani nature of Sri Mayapur Dham....but I'll state some well chosen words of advice a friend just gave careful what you wish for, because it will come true! I pray that my wishes will be infused with the desire to serve the Sri Guru, Gauranga and the vaisnavas. Here's to hoping that one will come true too! Bolo Gauranga Mahaprabhu ki JAI!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Greetings from Mayapur!

I'm here! Finally in Sri Dham Mayapur! I was fortunate to arrive a few days back and now am trying to bask into the nectar of the dham. Yesterday was incredible as it was Gopastami! Never have I experienced Gopastami in Mayapur and it was certainly something I'll never forget. To see Sri Sri Radha Madhava and the Astha Sakhis dressed so beautifully AND to see the lotus feet of Srimati Radharani and her sakhis! WOW! And a little known fact for those who have not been to Maypur. If anyone has ever seen the altar for Radha Madhava there are two levels. The second level are where the deities actually stand. However, normally no one is allowed to go on the first level (just directly below)...BUT apparently on festival days the devotees and visitors are allowed to stand there and take darshan and WHAT A VIEW!!!! To see their Lordships so up close and personal. Something I will never forget. And to be able to actually feed and pet the cows in the Goshala here in Mayapur. It is so sweet and something that we often forget: the necessity for cow protection and worship. One of the points that stood out from the various classes that were given yesterday was said by HG Pankajangrhi prabhu. He was asking the audience what would you do if you were God? Probably not herd cows everyday right?! LOL! Yes, I agree...I probably wouldn't. But this is what Krishna does, everyday and he takes so much pleasure from being with his beloved cows. So prabhu was saying this is a good measure for us to determine if we will like the spiritual world. So the point is: if you love cows, the smell of cows, the village atmosphere and just want to serve Krishna, you'll fit in great in the spiritual world!